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i fc 



BERKELEY 

.IBRARY 

TY OF 
CALIFORNIA J 



SKETCH 



OF 



THE SIKHS; 

Si lingular Ration, 



WHO INHABIT THE 



PROVINCES OF THE PENJAB, 



SITUATED BETWEEN 



C6e Etocttf 3[umna anD 3[ntw& 



LIEUTENANT-COLONEL MALCOLM, 

AUTHOR OF THE POLITICAL SKETCH OF INDIA. 



LONDON: 

PRINTED FOR JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET, 

By James Moyes, Greville Street, Hatton Garden. 

1812. 






ADVERTISEMENT. 



This Sketch has already appeared in the eleventh 
volume of the Asiatic Researches : but, as that va- 
luable work is not in common circulation, it is now 
republished ; and may prove acceptable, as a short and 
clear account of an oriental people, of singular religion 
and manners, with whose history the European reader 
can be but little acquainted. 



076 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS 



INTRODUCTION. 



W^HEN with the British army in the 
Penjab, in 1805, I endeavoured to collect 
materials that would throw light upon the 
history, manners, and religion of the Sikhs. 
Though this subject had been treated by 
several English writers, none of them had 
possessed opportunities of obtaining more 
than very general information regarding 
this extraordinary race; and their narra- 
tives therefore, though meriting regard, 
have served more to excite than to gratify 
curiosity. 

In addition to the information I col- 
lected while the army continued within the 



2 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

territories of the Sikhs, and the personal 
observations I was able to make, during 
that period, upon the customs and manners 
of that nation, I succeeded with difficulty 
in obtaining a copy of the Adi-Grant'h *, 
and of some historical tracts, the most 
essential parts of which, when I returned 
to Calcutta, were explained to me by a 
Sikh priest of the Nirmala order, whom I 
found equally intelligent and communi- 
cative, and who spoke of the religion and 
ceremonies of his sect with less restraint 
than any of his brethren whom I had met 
with in the Penjab. This slender stock 

* The sacred volume of the Sikhs. The chief, who 
gave me this copy, sent it at night, and with either a 
real or affected reluctance, after having obtained a pro- 
mise that I would treat it with great respect. I under- 
stand, however, that the indefatigable research of 
Mr. Colebrooke has procured not only the Adi- 
Grant'h, but also the Dasima Padshah ka Grant'h : 
and that, consequently, he is in possession of the two 
most sacred books of the Sikhs. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 3 

of materials was subsequently much en- 
riched by my friend Dr. Leyden, who has 
favoured me with a translation of several 
tracts written by Sikh authors in the Pen- 
jabi and Duggar dialects, treating of their 
history and religion ; which, though full of 
that warm imagery which marks all oriental 
works, and particularly those whose authors 
enter on the boundless field of Hindu my- 
thology, contain the most valuable veri- 
fications of the different religious institu- 
tions of the Sikh nation. 

It was my first intention to have endea- 
voured to add to these materials, and to 
have written, when I had leisure, a history 
of the Sikhs ; but the active nature of my 
public duties has made it impossible to 
carry this plan into early execution, and 
I have had the choice of deferring it to 
a distant and uncertain period ; or of giv- 
ing, from what I actually possessed, a short 
and hasty sketch of their history, customs, 
and religion. The latter alternative I have 



4 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

adopted : for, although the information I 
may convey in such a sketch may be very 
defective, it will be useful at a moment 
when every information regarding the Sikhs 
is of importance ; and it may, perhaps, sti- 
mulate and aid some person, who has more 
leisure and better opportunities, to ac- 
complish that task which I once con- 
templated. 

In composing this rapid sketch of the 
Sikhs, I have still had to encounter various 
difficulties. There is no part of oriental 
biography in which it is more difficult to 
separate truth from falsehood, than that 
which relates to the history of religious 
impostors. The account of their lives is 
generally recorded, either by devoted dis- 
ciples and warm adherents, or by violent 
enemies and bigotted persecutors. The for- 
mer, from enthusiastic admiration, decorate 
them with every quality and accomplish- 
ment that can adorn men : the latter mis- 
represent their characters, and detract from 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 5 

all their merits and pretensions. This general 
remark I have found to apply with pecu- 
liar force to the varying accounts given, by 
Sikh and Muhammedan authors, of Nanac 
and his successors. As it would have been 
an endless and unprofitable task to have 
entered into a disquisition concerning all 
the points in which these authors differ, 
many considerations have induced me to 
give a preference, on almost all occasions, 
to the original Sikh writers. In every re- 
search into the general history of mankind, 
it is of the most essential importance to 
hear what a nation has to say of itself; and 
the knowledge obtained from such sources 
has a value, independent of its historical 
utility. It aids the promotion of social 
intercourse, and leads to the establishment 
of friendship between nations. The most 
savage states are those who have most 
prejudices, and who are consequently most 
easily conciliated or offended: they are 



6 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

always pleased and flattered, when they 
find, that those whom they cannot but 
admit to possess superior intelligence, are 
acquainted with their history, and respect 
their belief and usages : and, on the con- 
trary, they hardly ever pardon an outrage 
against their religion or customs, though 
committed by men who have every right to 
plead the most profound ignorance, as an 
excuse for the words or actions that have 
provoked resentment. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 



SECTION I. 

SKETCH OF THE HISTORY AND PRESENT STATE 
OF THE SIKHS ; WITH OBSERVATIONS ON THEIR 
RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS, USAGES, MANNERS, 
AND CHARACTER. 

Nanac Shah, the founder of the sect, 
since distinguished by the name of Sikhs*, 
was born in the year of Christ 1469, at 
a small village called Talwandi-f, in the 
district of Bhatti, in the province of Lahore. 
His father, whose name was CaldJ, was of 

* Sikh or Sicsha, is a Sanscrit word, which means a 
disciple, or devoted follower. In the Penjabi it is 
corrupted into Sikh : it is a general term, and appli- 
cable to any person that follows a particular teacher. 

f This village, or rather town, for such it has 
become, is now called Rayapur. It is situated on the 
banks of the Beyah, or Hyphasis. 

J He is called, by some authors, Kalu Vedi ; but 
Vedi is a name derived from his tribe or family. 



8 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

the Cshatriya cast, and Vedi tribe of 
Hindus, and had no family except Nanac, 
and his sister Nanaci, who married a Hindu 
of the name of Jayaram, that was em- 
ployed as a grain-factor by Daulet Khan 
Lodi, a relation of the reigning emperor of 
Delhi. Nanac was, agreeably to the usage 
of the tribe in which he was born, married 
to a woman of respectable family, at an 
early age*, by whom he had two sons, 
named Srichand and Lacshmi Das. The 
former, who abandoned the vanities of the 
world, had a son called Dherm Chand, 
who founded the sect of Udasi ; and his 
descendants are yet known by the name of 
Nanac Putrah, or the children of Nanac. 
Lacshmi Das addicted himself to the plea- 
sures of this world, and left neither heirs 
nor reputation. 

* Several Sikh authors have heen very precise in 
establishing the date of the consummation of ihis mar- 
riage, which they fix in the month of Asarh, of the 
Ilind6 aera of Vicramaditya, 1545. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 9 

Nanac is stated, by all Sikh writers, to 
have been, from his childhood, inclined to 
devotion ; and the indifference which this 
feeling created towards all worldly concerns, 
appears to have been a source of continual 
uneasiness to his father ; who endeavoured, 
by every effort, to divert his mind from the 
religious turn which it had taken. With a 
view to effect this object, he one day gave 
Nanac a sum of money, to purchase salt at 
one village, in order to sell it at another; 
in the hope of enticing him to business, 
by allowing him to taste the sweets of com- 
mercial profit. Nanac was pleased with 
the scheme, took the money, and pro- 
ceeded, accompanied by a servant of the 
name of Bala, of the tribe of Sand'hu, 
towards the village where he was to make 
his purchase. He happened, however, on 
the road, to fall in with some Fakirs, (holy 
mendicants,) with whom he wished to com- 
mence a conversation; but they were so 
weak, from want of victuals, which they 



10 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

had not tasted for three days, that they 
could only reply to the observations of 
Nanac by bending their heads, and other 
civil signs of acquiescence. Nanac, af- 
fected by their situation, said to his com- 
panion, with emotion : " My father has 
" sent me to deal in salt, with a view to 
" profit ; but the gain of this world is 
" unstable, and profitless ; my wish is to 
" relieve these poor men, and to obtain 
" that gain which is permanent and eter- 
" nal." His companion* replied: " Thy 
" resolution is good : do not delay its exe- 
" cution." Nanac immediately distributed 
his money among the hungry Fakirs ; who, 
after they had gained strength from the 
refreshment which it obtained them, entered 
into a long discourse with him on the unity 
of God, with which he was much delighted. 
He returned next day to his father, who 

* Bala Sand'hu, who gave this advice, continued, 
through Nanac's life, to be his favourite attendant and 
disciple. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. H 

demanded what profit he had made ? " I 
" have fed the poor," said Nanac, " and 
" have obtained that gain for you which 
" will endure for ever." As the father hap- 
pened to have little value for the species of 
wealth which the son had acquired, he was 
enraged at having his money so fruitlessly 
wasted, abused poor Nanac, and even 
struck him ; nor could the mild repre- 
sentations of Nanaci save her brother from 
the violence of parental resentment. For- 
tune, however, according to the Sikh nar- 
rators of this anecdote of their teacher's 
early life, had raised him a powerful pro- 
tector, who not only rescued him from 
punishment, but established his fame and 
respectability upon grounds that at once 
put him above all fear of future bad usage 
from his low-minded and sordid father. 
When Nanac was quite a youth, and em- 
ployed to tend cattle in the fields, he hap- 
pened to repose himself one day under the 
shade of a tree ; and, as the sun declined 



12 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

towards the west, its rays fell on his face, 
when a large black snake*, advancing to 
the spot where he lay, raised itself from the 
ground, and interposed its spread hood 
between Nanac and the suns rays. Ray 
Bolar-f , the ruler of the district, was pass- 
ing the road, near the place where Nanac 
slept, and marked, in silence, though not 
without reflection, this unequivocal sign of 
his future greatness. This chief overheard 
Calu punishing his son for his kindness 
to the Fakirs. He immediately entered, 
and demanded the cause of the uproar ; 
and, when informed of the circumstances, 
he severely chid Calu for his conduct, and 

* The veneration which the Hindus have for the 
snake is well known ; and this tradition, like many 
others, proves the attachment of the Sikh writers to 
that mythology, the errors of which they pretend to 
have wholly abandoned. 

f Ray, a title inferior to that of a Rajah, generally 
applied to the Hindu chief of a village, or small 
district. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 13 

interdicted him from ever again lifting his 
hand to Nanac, before whom, to the asto- 
nishment of all present, he humbled himself 
with every mark of the most profound vene- 
ration. Though Calu, from this event, was 
obliged to treat his son with more respect 
than formerly, he remained as solicitous as 
ever to detach him from his religious habits, 
and to fix him in some worldly occupation ; 
and he prevailed upon Jayram, his son-in- 
law, to admit him into partnership in his 
business. Nanac, obliged to acquiesce in 
these schemes, attended at the granary of 
Daulet Khan Lodi, which was in charge of 
Jayram ; but though his hands were em- 
ployed in this work, and his kindness of 
manner made all the inhabitants of Sultan- 
pur, where the granary was established, his 
friends, yet his heart never strayed for one 
moment from its object. It was incessantly 
fixed on the Divinity ; and one morning, as 
he sat in a contemplative posture, a holy 
Muhammedan Fakir approached, and ex- 



14 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

claimed : " Oh Nanac ! upon what are thy 
" thoughts now employed ? Quit such oc- 
" cupations, that thou mayest obtain the 
" inheritance of eternal wealth." Nanac is 
said to have started up at this exclamation, 
and after looking for a moment in the face 
of the Fakir, he fell into a trance ; from 
which he had no sooner recovered, than he 
immediately distributed every thing in the 
granary among the poor* : and, after this 
act, proceeded with loud shouts out of the 
gates of the city, and running into a pool of 
water, remained there three days ; during 
which some writers assert he had an inter- 
view with the prophet Elias, termed by the 
Muhammedans, Khizzer, from whom he 
learnt all earthly sciences. 

While Nanac remained in the pool, 

* This remarkable anecdote in Nanac's life is told 
very differently by different Sikh authors. I have 
followed the narrative of Bhacta Malli. They all 
agree in Nanac's having, at this period, quitted the 
occupations of the world, and become Fakir. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS 1$ 

abstracted from all worldly considerations, 
holding converse with a prophet, poor 
Jayram was put in prison by Daulet Khan 
Lodi, on the charge of having dissipated 
his property. Nanac, however, returned, 
and told Daulet Khan that Jayram was 
faultless ; that he was the object of punish- 
ment ; and that, as such, he held himself 
ready to render the strictest account of all 
he had lost. The Khan accepted his pro- 
posal : Jayram's accounts were settled ; 
and, to the surprise of all, a balance was 
found in his favour ; on which he was not 
only released, but reinstated in the employ- 
ment and favour of his master. We are 
told, by the Sikh authors, that these won- 
derful actions increased the fame of Nanac 
in a very great degree ; and that he began, 
from this period, to practise all the au- 
sterities of a holy man ; and, by his frequent 
abstraction in the contemplation of the 
divine Being, and his abstinence and virtue, 



16 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

he soon acquired great celebrity through 
all the countries into which he travelled. 

There are many extravagant accounts re- 
garding the travels of Nanac. One author*, 
who treats of the great reform which he 
made in the worship of the true God, 
which he found degraded by the idolatry 
of the Hindus, and the ignorance of the 
Muhammedans, relates his journey to all 
the different Hindu places of pilgrimage, 
and to Mecca, the holy temple of the Mu- 
hammedans. 

It would be tedious, and foreign to the 
purpose of this sketch, to accompany Na- 
nac in his travels, of which the above-men- 
tioned author, as well as others, has given 
the most circumstantial accounts. He was 
accompanied (agreeable to them) by a cele- 
brated musician, of the name of Merdana, 
and a person named Bala Sand'hu ; and it 

* Bhai Guru Vali, author of the Gnyana Ratnavali, 
a work written in the Sikh dialect of the Penjabi. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 17 

is on the tradition of the latter of these 
disciples, that most of the miracles* and 
wonders of his journies are related. In 
Bengal, the travellers had to encounter all 
kinds of sorcerers and magicians. Poor 
Merdana, who had some of the propensities 
of Sancho, and preferred warm houses and 
good meals to deserts and starvation, was 
constantly in trouble, and more than once 
had his form changed into that of a sheep, 
and of several other animals. Nanac, 
however, always restored his humble friend 
to the human shape, and as constantly 
read him lectures on his imprudence. It 
is stated, in one of those accounts, that 
a Raja of Sivanab'hu endeavoured to tempt 
Nanac, by offering him all the luxuries of 
the world, to depart from his austere habits, 
but in vain. His presents of rich meats, 

* Though his biographers have ascribed miracles to 
Nanac, we never find that he pretended to work any : 
on the contrary, he derided those who did, as deriving 
power from evil spirits. 

C 



18 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

splendid clothes, and fair ladies, only af- 
forded the Sikh teacher so many oppor- 
tunities of decrying the vanities of this 
worid, and preaching to the Raja the bless- 
ings of eternal life ; and he at last succeeded 
in making him a convert, and resided at 
Sivanab'hu two years and five months ; 
during which period he composed the Pran 
Sancali*, for the instruction of his fol- 
lowers. After Nanac had visited all the 
cities of India, and explained to all ranks 
the great doctrines of the unity and omni- 
presence of God, he went to Mecca and 
Medina, where his actions, his miracles, 
and his long disputations with the most 
celebrated Muhammedan saints and doc- 
tors, are most circumstantially recorded by 
his biographers. He is stated, on this oc- 
casion, to have maintained his own prin- 
ciples, without offending those of others ; 
always professing himself the enemy of dis- 

* It is believed th.it this work of Nanac has been 
incorporated in the first part of the Adi-Grant'li. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 19 

cord, and as having no object but to recon- 
cile the two faiths of the Muhammedans 
and Hindus in one religion ; which he en- 
deavoured to do by recalling them to that 
great and original tenet, in which they both 
believed, the unity of God, and by reclaim- 
ing them from the numerous errors into 
which they had fallen. During his travels, 
Nanac was introduced to the emperor 
Baber*, before whom he is said to have 
defended his doctrine with great firmness 
and eloquence. Baber was pleased with 
him, and ordered an ample maintenance to 
be bestowed upon him ; which the Sikh priest 
refused; observing, that he trusted in him 
who provided for all men, and from whom 
alone a man of virtue and religion would 
consent to receive favour or reward. When 
Nanac returned from his travels, he cast 

* This interview must have taken place in 1526 or 
1527 ; as it is stated to have been immediately after 
Daulet Khan Lodi had visited Paniput, in 1526; 
where that prince had fought, and subdued Ibrahim, 
emperor of Hindustan, 



20 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

off the garments of a Fakir, and wore plain 
clothes, but continued to give instructions 
to his numerous disciples ; and he appears, 
at this period, to have experienced the 
most violent opposition from the Hindu, 
zealots, who reproached him with having 
laid aside the habits of a Fakir, and with 
the impiety of the doctrines which he 
taught. These accusations he treated with 
great contempt ; and an author, before 
cited, Bhai Guru Das Vali, states, that 
when he visited Vatala, he enraged the 
Yogis waras* so much, that they tried all 
their powers of enchantment to terrify him. 
" Some," says this writer, " assumed the 
" shape of lions and tigers, others hissed 
" like snakes, one fell in a shower of fire, 
" and another tore the stars from the firma- 
" ment;" but Nanac remained tranquil: 
and when required to exhibit some proof 
of his powers that would astonish them, he 

* Recluse penitents, who, by means of mental and 
corporeal mortifications, have acquired a command 
over the powers of nature. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 21 

replied : " I have nothing to exhibit worthy 
" of you to behold. A holy teacher has 
" no defence but the purity of his doctrine : 
" the world may change, but the Creator 
" is unchangeable." These words, adds the 
author, caused the miracles and enchant- 
ments of the Yogiswaras to cease, and they 
all fell at the feet of the humble Nanac, 
who was protected by the all perfect God. 

Nanac, according to the same authority, 
went from Vatala to Multan, where he 
communed with* the Pirs, or holy fathers of 
the Muhammedan religion of that country. 
" I am come," said he, when he entered 
that province, " into a country full of Pirs, 
" like the sacred Ganga, visiting the ocean/' 
From Multan he went to Kirtipur*, where 
he threw off his earthly shape, and was 
buried near the bank of the river Ravi, 
which has since overflowed his tomb. Kir- 
tipur continues a place of religious resort 

* Kirtipur Dehra, on the banks of the Ravi, or 
Hydraotes. 



22 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

and worship ; and a small piece of Nanac's 
garment is exhibited to pilgrims, as a sacred 
relic, at his Dharmasala, or temple. 

It would be difficult to give the character 
of Nanac* on the authority of any account 
we yet possess. His writings, especially the 
first chapters of the Adi-Crant'h, will, if 
ever translated, be perhaps a criterion by 
which he may be fairly judged ; but the 
great eminence which he obtained, and the 
success with which he combated the oppo- 
sition which he met, afford -ample reason to 
conclude that he was a man of more than 
common genius : and this favourable im- 
pression of his character will be confirmed 

* He is, throughout this sketch, called Nanac. 
Muhammedan historians generally term him Nanac 
Shah, to denote his being a Fakir, the name of Shah 
being frequently given to men of celebrity in that 
sect. The Sikhs, in speaking of him, call him Baba 
Nanac, or Guru Nanac, father Nanac, or Nanac the 
teacher; and their writers term him Nanac Nirinkar, 
which means Nanac the omnipresent. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 23 

by a consideration of the object of his life, 
and the means he took to accomplish it. 
Born in a province on the extreme verge 
of India, at the very point where the reli- 
gion of Mnhammed and the idolatrous 
worship of the Hindus appeared to touch, 
and at a moment when both these tribes 
cherished the most violent rancour and ani- 
mosity towards each other, his great aim 
was to blend those jarring elements in 
peaceful union, and he only endeavoured 
to effect this purpose through the means 
of mild persuasion. His wish was to recall 
both Muhammedans and Hindus to an 
exclusive attention to that sublimest of all 
principles, which inculcates devotion to 
God, and peace towards man. He had 
to combat the furious bigotry of the one, 
and the deep-rooted superstition of the 
other; but he attempted to overcome all 
obstacles by the force of reason and hu- 
manity. And we cannot have a more con- 
vincing proof of the general character of 



24 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

that doctrine which he taught, and the inof- 
fensive light in which it was viewed, than 
the knowledge that its success did not rouse 
the bigotry of the intolerant and tyrannical 
Muhaminedan government under which he 
lived. 

Nanac did not deem either of his sons, 
before mentioned, worthy of the succession 
to his spiritual functions, which he be- 
queathed to a Cshatriya of the Trehun 
tribe, called Lehana, who had long been 
attached to him, and whom he had initiated 
in the sacred mysteries of his sect, clothed 
in the holy mantle of a Fakir, and honoured 
with the name of Angad*, which, accord- 
ing to some commentators, means own 
body. 

Guru Angad, for that is the name by 

* This fanciful etymology represents the word 
Angad as a compound of the Sanscrit Jug, which 
signifies body, and the Persian Khiid, which signifies 
own. This mixture of language is quite common in 
the jargon of the Penjab. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 25 

which he is known by all Sikhs, was born 
at the village of Khandur, on the bank of 
the Beyah, or Hyphasis, in the province 
of Lahore. His life does not appear to 
have been distinguished by any remarkable 
actions. He taught the same doctrine as 
Nanac, and wrote some chapters that now 
form part of the Grant'h. He left two 
sons, Vasu and Datu, but neither of them 
was initiated ; and he was succeeded, at 
his death*, which happened in the year 
A. D. 1552, and of the Sam vat 1609, by 
Amera Das, a Cshatriya of the tribe of 
B'hale, who performed the duties of a me- 
nial towards him for upwards of twelve 
years. It is stated, that the daily occu- 
pation of Amera Das was to bring water 
from the Beyah river, a distance of six 
miles, to wash the feet of his master ; and 
that one night, during a severe storm, as he 

* Angad died at Khandur, a village about forty 
miles east of Lahore. 



26 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

was returning from his journey, his foot 
slipped, and he fell and broke the vessel 
that contained the river water, opposite the 
door of a weaver, who lived next house 
to Angad. The weaver, startled at the 
noise, demanded, in a loud voice, of his 
wife, from whence it proceeded. The 
woman, who was well acquainted with the 
daily toils and the devotion of Angad's 
servant, replied, " It was poor Amera Das, 
" who knows neither the sweets of sleep by 
" night, nor of rest by day/' This conver- 
sation was overheard by Angad ; and when 
Amera Das came, next morning, to per- 
form his usual duties, he treated him with 
extraordinary kindness, and said : " You 
" have endured great labour; but, hence- 
" forward, enjoy rest/' Amera Das was 
distinguished for his activity in preaching 
the tenets of Nanac, and was very suc- 
cessful in obtaining converts and followers ; 
by the aid of whom he established some 
temporal power, built Kujarawal, and sepa- 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 27 

rated from the regular Sikhs the Udasi sect, 
which was founded by Dherm-Chand, the 
son of Nanac, and was probably con- 
sidered, at that period, as heretical. 

Amera Das had two children, a son 
named Mohan, and a daughter named M6- 
hani, known by the name of B'haini; re- 
garding whose marriage he is stated to have 
been very anxious : and as this event gave 
rise to a dynasty of leaders, who are almost 
adored among the Sikhs, it is recorded 
with much minuteness by the writers of 
that nation. 

Amera Das had communicated his wishes, 
regarding the marriage of B'haini, to a Brah- 
men, who was his head servant, and di- 
rected him to make some inquiries. The 
Brahmen did so, and reported to his master 
that he had been successful, and had found 
a youth every way suited to be the husband 
of his daughter. As they were speaking 
upon this subject in the street, Amera Das 



28 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

asked what was the boy's stature ? " About 
" the same height as that lad," said the 
Brahmen, pointing to a youth standing 
near them. The attention of Amera Das 
was instantly withdrawn from the Brahmen, 
and intently fixed upon the youth to whom 
he had pointed. He asked him regarding 
his tribe, his name, and his family. The 
lad said his name was Ram Das, and that 
he was a Cshatriya, of a respectable family, 
of the Sondi tribe, and an inhabitant of the 
village of Gondawal. Amera Das, pleased 
with the information he had received, took 
no more notice of the Brahmen and his 
choice of a son-in-law, but gave his daughter 
to the youth whom fortune had so casually 
introduced to his acquaintance*. Amera 

* Though a contrary belief is inculcated by Nanac, 
the Sikhs, like the Hindus, are inclined to be predesti- 
narians, and this gives their minds a great tendency to 
view accidents as decrees of Providence; and it is 
probable that this instance of early good fortune in 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. %g 

Das died in the year A. D. 1574, and of the 
Sam vat 16*31, at the village of Gondawal, 
in the province of Lahore, and was suc- 
ceeded by his son-in-law, Ram Das*, whom 
he had initiated in the sacred mysteries of 
his holy profession, and who became famous 
for his piety, and still more from the im- 
provements he made at Amritsar, which 
was for some time called Rampur, or Ram- 
daspu'r, after him. Some Sikh authorities 
ascribe the foundation of this city to him, 
which is not correct, as it was a very 
ancient town, known formerly under the 



Ram Das, by impressing his countrymen with an idea 
of his being particularly favoured of Heaven, gave rise 
to an impression that promoted, in no slight degree, 
that success which it anticipated. 

* No dates of the events which occurred during the 
rule of Ram Das are given in any of the authorities 
from which this sketch is drawn. One author, how- 
ever, states, that he lived in the time of Akber, and was 
honoured with the favour of that truly tolerant and 
great emperor. 



30 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

name of Chak. He, however, added much 
to its population, and built a famous tank, 
or reservoir of water, which he called Ara- 
ritsar, a name signifying the water of im- 
mortality, and which has become so sacred, 
that it has given its name, and imparted its 
sanctity, to the town of Ramdaspur, which 
has become the sacred city of the Sikh 
nation, and is now only known by the name 
of Amritsar. 

After a life passed in the undisturbed 
propagation of his tenets, in explanation of 
which he wrote several works, he died, in 
the year A. D. 1581, and of the Samvat 
1638, at Amritsar, leaving two sons, Ar- 
junmal and Bharatmal. He was succeeded 
by the former*, who has rendered himself 

* Arjunmal, or Arjun, as he is more commonly 
called, according to B'hai Guru Das B'hale, the author 
of the Gnyan Ratnavali, was not initiated in the 
sacred mysteries of his father. This author says, that 
Arjun, though a secular man, did not suffer the office 
of Guru, or priest, to leave the Sondi tribe. " Like a 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 31 

famous by compiling the Adi-Grant'h *. 
The Adi-Grant'h, or first sacred volume of 
the Sikhs, contains ninety-two sections : it 
was partly composed by Nanac and his 
immediate successors, but received its pre- 
sent form and arrangement from Arjunmalf, 

" substance," he adds, " which none else could di- 
" gest, the property of the family remained in the 
« family." 

* Grant'h means book ; but, as a mark of its supe- 
riority to all others, is given to this work, as " The 
" Book." Adi Grant'h means, the first Grant'h, or 
book, and is generally given to this work to distin- 
guish it from the Dasama Padshah ka Grant'h, or the 
book of the tenth king, composed by Guru Govind. 

f Though the original Adi-Grant'h was compiled by 
Arjunmal, from the writings of Nanac, Angad, Amera 
•Das, and Ram Das, and enlarged and improved by his 
own additions and commentaries, some small portions 
have been subsequently added by thirteen different 
persons, whose numbers, however, are reduced, by the 
Sikh authors, to twelve and a half: the last contri- 
butor to this sacred volume being a woman, is only 
admitted to rank in the list as a fraction, by these 
ungallant writers. 



32 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

who has blended his own additions with 
what he deemed most valuable in the com- 
positions of his predecessors. It is Arjun, 
then, who ought, from this act, to be deemed 
the first who gave consistent form and order 
to the religion of the Sikhs : an act which, 
though it has produced the effect he wished, 
of uniting that nation more closely, and of 
increasing their numbers, proved fatal to 
himself. The jealousy of the Muhammedan 
government was excited, and he was made 
its sacrifice. The mode of his death, which 
happened in the year of Christ 1606, and 
of the Samvat 1663, is related very dif- 
ferently by different authorities : but several 
of the most respectable agree in stating, 
that his martyrdom, for such they term it, 
was caused by the active hatred of a rival 
Hindu zealot, Danichand Cshatriya, whose 
writings he refused to admit into the Adi- 
Grant'h, on the ground that the tenets incul- 
cated in them were irreconcileable to the 
pure doctrine of the unity and omnipotence 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 33 

of God, taught in that sacred volume. 
This rival had sufficient influence with the 
Muhammedan governor of the province to 
procure the imprisonment of Arjun ; who 
is affirmed, by some writers, to have died 
from the severity of his confinement ; and, 
by others, to have been put to death in the 
most cruel manner. In whatever way his 
life was terminated, there can be no doubt, 
from its consequences, that it was consi- 
dered, by his followers, as an atrocious 
murder, committed by the Muhammedan 
government ; and the Sikhs, who had been, 
till then, an inoffensive, peaceable sect, took 
arms under Har Govind, the son of Arjun- 
mal, and wreaked their vengeance upon all 
whom they thought concerned in the death 
of their revered priest. 

The contest carried on by Har Govind 
against the Muhammedan chiefs in the 
Penjab, though no doubt marked by that 
animosity which springs from a deep and 
implacable sense of injury on one part, and 

D 



34 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

the insolence and violence of insulted power 
on the other, could not have been of great 
magnitude or importance, else it would 
have been more noticed by contemporary 
Muhammedan writers ; but it was the first 
fruits of that desperate spirit of hostility, 
which was soon after to distinguish the 
wars between the followers of Nanac and 
those of Muhammed : and, from every ac- 
count of Har Govind's life, it appears to 
have been his anxious wish to inspire his 
followers with the most irreconcileable hatred 
of their oppressors. 

It is stated, that this warlike* Guru, or 

* Several historical accounts of the Sikhs, par- 
ticularly that published by Major Browne, which is, 
in general, drawn from authentic sources, appear to be 
in error with regard to the period at which this race 
first took arras, which the last author states to have 
occurred under Guru G6vind; but several Sikh au-> 
thors, of great respectability and information, agree in 
ascribing to the efforts of Har Govind, the son of 
Arjun, this great change in the Sikh commonwealth; 
and their correctness, in this point, appears to be placed 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 35 

priest militant, wore two swords in his 
girdle. Being asked why he did so : " The 
" one/' said he, " is to revenge the death 
" of my father ; the other, to destroy the 
" miracles of Muhammed." 

beyond all question, by a passage in the Ratnavali of 
B'hai Guru Das B'hale ; who observes, " That five phials 
" (of divine grace) were distributed to five Pirs (holy 
" men), but the sixth Pir was a mighty Guru (priest). 
" Arjun threw off his earthly frame, and the form 
" of Har Govind mounted the seat of authority. The 
" Sondi race continued exhibiting their different forms 
" in their turns. Har Govind was the destroyer of 
" armies, a martial Guru (priest), a great warrior, and 
" performed great actions." The mistake of some 
European writers on this subject probably originated 
in a confusion of verbal accounts ; and the similarity 
of the name of Har Govind, the son of Arjunmal, and 
Govind, the last and greatest of the Sikh Gurus, the 
son of Tegh Bahadur. In the Persian sketch, which 
Major Browne translates, the name of Har Govind is 
not mentioned. The son of Arjunmal is called Guru 
Ram Ray, which is obviously a mistake of the author 
of that manuscript. 



3(5 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

Har Govind is reputed, by some authors, 
to have been the first who allowed his fol- 
lowers to eat* the flesh of all animals, with 
the exception of the cow : and it appears not 
improbable that he made this great change 
in their diet at the time when he effected a 
still more remarkable revolution in their 
habits, by converting a race of peaceable 
enthusiasts into an intrepid band of sol- 
diers -f. He had five sons, Babu Guru- 
daitya, Saurat Singh, Tegh Bahadur, Anna 
Ray, and Atal Ray. The two last died 

* Nanac had forbidden hog's flesh, though a com- 
mon species of food among the lower tribe of Hindus, 
in compliance with the prejudices of the Mu- 
bammedans, whom it was his great wish to recon- 
cile to bis faith by every concession and per- 
suasion. 

f It is stated, by a Sikh author named Nand, that 
Har Govind, during his ministry, established the prac- 
tice of invoking the three great Hindu deities, Brahma, 
Vishnu, and Siva: but this is not confirmed by any 
other authority which I have seen. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 37 

without descendants. Saurat Singh and 
Tegh Singh, or Tegh Bahadur, were, by 
the cruel persecution of the Muhammedans, 
forced to fly into the mountains to the 
northward of the Penjab. His eldest son, 
Gurudaitya, died early, but left two sons, 
Daharmal and Har Ray ; the latter of whom 
succeeded his grandfather, who died in the 
year A. D. 1644, and of the Samvat 1701. 
It does not appear that Har Ray enjoyed 
much temporal power, or that he entered 
into any hostilities with the Muhamme- 
dans : his rule was tranquil, and passed 
without any remarkable event; owing, pro- 
bably, to the vigor which the Muham- 
medan power had attained in the early 
part of the reign of Aurungzeb. At his 
death, which happened in the year A.D. 
1661, and of the Samvat 1718, a violent 
contest arose among the Sikhs, regarding 
the succession to the office of spiritual 
leader; for the temporal power of their 
ruler was, at this period, little more than 



38 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

nominal. The dispute between his sons, 
or, as some Sikh authors state, his son and 
grandson, Har Crishn and Ram Ray, was 
referred to Dehli, whither both parties went ; 
and, by an imperial decree of Aurungzeb, 
the Sikhs were allowed to elect their own 
priest. They chose Har Crishn, who died 
at Dehli in the year A. D. 1664, and of the 
Samvat 1721 ; and was succeeded by his 
uncle, Tegh Behadur. He, however, had 
to encounter the most violent opposition 
from his nephew, Ram Ray*, who remained 

* The violent contests of the Sikhs are mentioned 
by most of their writers ; and, though they disagree 
in their accounts, they all represent Tegh Behadur as 
falling the innocent sacrifice of Muhammedan des- 
potism and intolerance ; which, from the evidence 
of all respectable contemporary Muhammedan au- 
thors, would appear not to be the fact. Tegh Be- 
hadur, agreeable to them, provoked his execution 
by a series of crimes. He joined, they state, with a 
Moslem Fakir, of the name of Hafiz ed Din ; and, 
supported by a body of armed mendicants, commit- 
ted the most violent depredations on the peaceable 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 39 

at Dehli, and endeavoured, by every art 
and intrigue, to effect his ruin: he was 
seized, and brought to Dehli, in conse- 
quence of his nephew's misrepresentations ; 
and, after being in prison for two years, 
was released at the intercession of Jayasingh, 
Raja of Jayapur, whom he accompanied 
to Bengal. Tegh Behadur afterwards took 
up his abode at the city of Patna* ; but 
was pursued, agreeable to Sikh authors, to 
his retreat, with implacable rancour, by the 
jealousy and ambition of Ram Ray ; who 
at last accomplished the destruction of his 
rival. He was brought from Patna, and, 
by the accounts of the same authors, pub- 
licly put to death, without even the alle- 
gation of a crime, beyond a firm and 

inhabitants of the Penjab. The author of the Seir 
Mutakhherin says he was, in consequence of these 
excesses, put to death at Gwalior, and his body cut 
into four quarters, one of which was hung up at each 
gate of the fortress. 

*■ A Sikh college was founded in that city. 



40 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

undaunted assertion of the truth of that 
faith of which he was the high priest. 
This event is said to have taken place in 
the year A. D. 1675, and of the Samvat 
1732 : but the Sikh records of their own 
history, from the death of Har Govind to 
that of Tegh Behadur, are contradictory 
and unsatisfactory, and appear to merit 
little attention. The fact is, that the sect 
was almost crushed, in consequence of their 
first effort to attain power, under Har Go- 
vind ; and, from the period of his death to 
that of Tegh Behadur, the Mogul empire 
was, as has been before stated, in the zenith 
of its power, under Aurungzeb : and the 
Sikhs, who had never attained any real 
strength, were rendered still weaker by 
their own internal dissensions. Their writers 
have endeavoured to supply this chasm in 
their history by a fabulous account of the 
numerous miracles which were wrought by 
their priests, Ram Ray, Har Crishn, and 
even the unfortunate T6gh Behadur, at 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 41 

Dehli, all of whom are said to have asto- 
nished the emperor and his nobles, by a 
display of their supernatural powers : but 
their wide difference from each other, in 
these relations, would prove, if any proof 
was wanting, that all the annals of that 
period are fabricated. 

The history of the Sikhs, after the death 
of Tegh Behadur, assumes a new aspect. 
It is no longer the record of a sect, who, 
revering the conciliatory and mild tenets of 
their founder, desired more to protect them- 
selves than to injure others ; but that of a 
nation, who, adding to a deep sense of the 
injuries they had sustained from a bigotted 
and overbearing government, all the ardour 
of men commencing a military career of 
glory, listened, with rapture, to a son glow- 
ing with vengeance against the murderers 
of his father, who taught a doctrine suited 
to the troubled state of his mind, and called 
upon his followers, by every feeling of man- 
hood, to lay aside their peaceable habits, to 



42 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

graft the resolute courage of the soldier on 
the enthusiastic faith of the devotee, to 
swear eternal war with the cruel and haughty 
Muhammedans, and to devote themselves 
to steel, as the only means of obtaining 
every blessing that this world, or that to 
come, could afford to mortals. 

This was the doctrine of Guru Govind, 
the son of Tegh Behadur; who, though 
very young at his father's death, had his 
mind imbued with the deepest horror at 
that event, and cherished a spirit of im- 
placable resentment against those whom he 
considered as his murderers. Devoting his 
life to this object, we find him, when quite 
a youth, at the head of a large party of his 
followers, amid the hills of Srinagar, where 
he gave proofs of that ardent and daring 
mind, which afterwards raised him to such 
eminence. He was not, however, able to 
maintain himself against the prince of that 
country, with whom he had entered into 
hostilities; and, being obliged to leave it, 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 43 

he went to the Penjab, where he was 
warmly welcomed by a Hindu chief in re- 
bellion against the government. This chief 
gave Govind possession of Mak'haval*, and 
several other villages, where he settled with 
his followers, and repaid his benefactor by 
aiding him in his depredations. Govind 
appears, at this moment, to have been uni- 
versally acknowledged by the Sikhs, as their 
Sat-gurti, or chief spiritual leader ; and he 
used the influence which that station, his 
sufferings, and the popularity of his cause, 
gave him, to effect a complete change in 
the habits and religion of his countrymen-)-. 
It would be tedious and useless to follow 
the Sikh writers through those volumes of 
fables in which they have narrated the 
wonders that prognosticated the rise of this, 

* A town on the Satlej. 

+ Guru Govind is stated, by a Sikh author of re- 
spectability, B'hai Guru Das B'hale, to have been 
fourteen years of age when his father was put to 
death. 



44 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

the most revered of all their priests, to 
power; or to enter, at any length, into 
those accounts which they, and Govind 
himself, for he is equally celebrated as an 
author and as a warrior, have given of his 
exploits. It will be sufficient, for the pur- 
pose of this sketch, to state the essential 
changes which he effected in his tribe, and 
the consequences of his innovations. 

Though the Sikhs had already, under 
Har Govind, been initiated in arms, yet 
they appear to have used these only in self- 
defence : and as every tribe of Hindus, from 
the Brahmen to the lowest of the Sudra, 
may, in cases of necessity, use them without 
any infringement of the original institutions 
of their tribe, no violation of these insti- 
tutions was caused by the rules of Nanac ; 
which, framed with a view to conciliation, 
carefully abstained from all interference 
with the civil institutes of the Hindus. But 
lus more daring successor, Guru Govind, 
saw that such observances were at variance 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 45 

with the plans of his lofty ambition ; and 
he wisely judged, that the only means by 
which he could ever hope to oppose the 
Muhammedan government with success, 
were not only to admit converts from all 
tribes, but to break, at once, those rules by 
which the Hindus had been so long chained ; 
to arm, in short, the whole population of 
the country, and to make worldly wealth 
and rank an object to which Hindus, of 
every class, might aspire. 

The extent to which Govind succeeded 
in this design will be more fully noticed in 
another place. It is here only necessary to 
state the leading features of those changes by 
which he subverted, in so short a time, the 
hoary institutions of Brahma*, and excited 

# The object of Nanac was to abolish the distinc- 
tions of cast amongst the Hindus, and to bring them 
to the adoration of that Supreme Being, before whom 
all men, he contended, were equal. Guru Govind, 
who adopted all the principles of his celebrated prede- 
cessor, as far as religious usages were concerned, is 



46 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

terror and astonishment in the minds of the 
Muhammedan conquerors of India, who saw 
the religious prejudices of the Hindus, which 
they had calculated upon as one of the 
pillars of their safety, because they limited 
the great majority of the population to 
peaceable occupations, fall before the touch 
of a bold and enthusiastic innovator, who 
opened at once, to men of the lowest tribe*, 
the dazzling prospect of earthly glory. All 
who subscribed to his tenets were upon a 

reported to have said, on this subject, that the four 
tribes of Hindus, the Brahmen, Cshatriya, Vaisya, 
and Sudra, would, like pan (betle-leaf), chunam (lime), 
sitpari (betle-nut), and khat (terra japonica, or catechu), 
become all of one colour, when well chewed. 

* Some men of the lowest Hindu tribe, of the occu- 
pation of sweepers, were employed to bring away the 
corpse of Tegh Behadur from Dehli. Their success 
was rewarded by high rank and employment. Several 
of the same tribe, who have become Sikhs, have been 
remarkable for their valour, and have attained great 
reputation. They are distinguished, among the Sikhs, 
by the name of Ran-Rata Singh. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 47 

level, and the Brahmen who entered his sect 
had no higher claims to eminence than the 
lowest Sudra who swept his house. It was 
the object of Govind to make all Sikhs 
equal*, and that their advancement should 
solely depend upon their exertions: and 
well aware how necessary it was to inspire 
men of a low race, and of groveling minds, 
with pride in themselves, he changed the 
name of his followers from Sikh to Singh, 
or lion; thus giving to all his followers 
that honourable title which had been before 
exclusively assumed by the Rajaputs, the 
first military class of Hindus : and every 

* That is, equal in civil rights. He wished to re- 
move the disqualifications of birth, and do away cast. 
That he did not completely effect this object, and 
that some distinctions of their former tribes, par- 
ticularly those relating to intermarriage, should still 
be kept up by the Sikhs, cannot be a matter of asto- 
nishment to those acquainted with the deep-rooted 
prejudices of the Hindus upon this point; which is as 
much a feeling of family pride as of religious usage. 



48 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

Sikh felt himself at once elevated to rank 
with the highest, by this proud appellation. 
The disciples of Govind were required to 
devote themselves to arms, always to have 
steel about them in some shape or other ; to 
wear a blue dress ; to allow their hair to 
grow ; to exclaim, when they met each other, 
Wd ! Gurdji kd khdlsah ! Wd ! Guruji ki 
futteh ! which means, " Success to the 
" state of the Guru! Victory attend the 
" Guru* ! The intention of some of these 
institutions is obvious : such as that prin- 
ciple of devotion to steel, by which all were 
made soldiers ; and that exclamation, which 
made the success of their priest, and that 
of the commonwealth, the object of their 
hourly prayer. It became, in fact, the 
watchword which was continually to revive, 
in the minds of the Sikh disciple, the obli- 
gations he owed to that community of 

* Spiritual leader. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 49 

which he had become a member, and to 
that faith which he had adopted. 

Of the causes which led Govind to enjoin 
his followers to regard it as impious to cut 
the hair of their heads, or shave their 
beards, very different accounts are given. 
Several Muhammedan authors state, that 
both this ordination, and the one which 
directed his followers to wear blue clothes, 
was given in consequence of his gratitude 
to some Afghan mountaineers, who aided 
his escape from a fort, in which he was 
besieged, by clothing him in a chequered 
blue dress, and causing him to allow his 
hair to grow, in order to pass him for one 
of their own Pirs, or holy fathers ; in which 
they succeeded. This account, however, 
is not supported by any Sikh writer; and 
one of the most respectable and best in- 
formed authors of that sect states, that 
when Guru Govind first went to Anandpur 
Mak'haval, which was also called Cesgher, 
or the house of hair, he spent much of his 

E 



50 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

time in devotion, at a temple of Durga 
Bhavani, the goddess of courage, by whom 
he was directed to unloose his hair and 
draw his sword. Govind, in consequence 
of this pretended divine order, vowed he 
would preserve his hair, as consecrated 
to that divinity, and directed his followers 
to do the same*. The origin of that blue 
chequered f dress, which was at one time 
worn by all Govind's followers, and is still 
worn by the Acalis, or never-dying, (the 
most remarkable class of devotees of that 
sect,) is differently stated by different au- 
thors : but it appears probable, that both 
these institutions proceeded from the policy 



f The goddess Durga Bhavani is said, by a Sikh 
author, to be represented, in some images, with her 
hair long and dishevelled. 

f This institution is also said to be borrowed from 
the Hindu mythology. Bala Ram, the elder brother 
of Crishna, wore blue clothes ; from which he is called 
Nilambar, or the clothed in dark blue ; and Shitivas, or 
the blue clothed. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 51 

of Govind, who sought to separate his fol- 
lowers from all other classes of India, as 
much by their appearance as by their reli- 
gion : and he judged with wisdom when 
he gave consequence to such distinctions; 
which, though first established as mere 
forms, soon supersede the substance of 
belief; and, when strengthened by usage, 
become the points to which ignorant and 
unenlightened minds have, in all ages of the 
world, shown the most resolute and uncon- 
querable adherence. 

Guru. Govind inculcated his tenets upon 
his followers by his preaching, his actions, 
and his works ; among which is the Dasama 
Padshah ka Grant'h, or the book of the 
tenth king or ruler; Guru Govind being 
the tenth leader of the sect from Nanac. 
This volume, which is not limited to reli- 
gious subjects, but filled with accounts of 
his own. battles, and written with the view 
of stirring up a spirit of valour and emu- 
lation among his followers, is at least as 



52 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

much revered, among the Sikhs, as the 
Adi-Grant'h of Arjunmal. Govind is said 
to have first instituted the Guru Mata, or 
state council, among the Sikhs ; which 
meets at Amritsar. The constitution and 
usages of this national assembly will be 
described hereafter: it is here only neces- 
sary to observe, that its institution adds 
one more proof to those already stated, of 
the comprehensive and able mind of this 
bold reformer, who gave, by its foundation, 
that form of a federative republic, to the 
commonwealth of the Sikhs, which was 
most calculated to rouse his followers from 
their indolent habits, and deep-rooted pre- 
judices, by giving them a personal share in 
the government, and placing within the 
reach of every individual the attainment of 
rank and influence in the state. 

It could not be expected that Guru 
Govind could accomplish all those great 
schemes he had planned. He planted the 
tree ; but it was not permitted, according to 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 53 

Sikh writers, that he should see it in that 
maturity which it was destined to reach : 
and this, these authors state, was foretold 
to him by some Brahmens, skilled in necro- 
mancy. It would be tedious to dwell on 
such fables*; and it is time to return to the 

* One of the most popular of these fables states, 
that in the year of the Hijerah 1118, Guru Go- 
vind, agreeably to the directions he had received 
from two Brahmen necromancers, threw a number of 
magical compounds, given him by these Brahmens, 
into a fire, near which he continued in prayers for 
several days. A sword of lightning at last burst from 
the flame of fire; but Govind, instead of seizing this 
sword in an undaunted manner, as he was instructed, 
was dazzled by its splendour, and shrunk from it 
in alarm. The sword instantly flew to heaven ; from 
whence a loud voice was heard to say, " Guru G6- 
" vind! thy wishes shall be fulfilled by thy posterity, 
" and thy followers shall daily increase." The Brah- 
mens were in despair at this failure ; but, after deep 
reflection, they told Govind, there was still one mode 
of acquiring that honour for himself, which appeared, 
by the decree that had been pronounced, doomed for 
his posterity. If he would only allow them to take off his 



54 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

political life of Go vine! , which is marked 
by but few events of importance. These are 
either related by Muhammedan authors, 
who detract from all the pretensions of this 
enemy of their faith and name ; by his dis- 
ciples, .who exalt the slightest of his actions 
into the achievements of a divinity ; or 
by himself, for he wrote an account of his 
own wars. This last work, however, is 
more calculated to inflame the courage of 
his followers, than to convey correct in- 
formation of actual events. 

Guru Govind Singh, in the Vichitra Na- 
tac, a work written by himself, and inserted 
in the Dasania Padshah ka Grant n, traces 
lhc descent of the Cshatriya tribe of Sondi, 
to which he belongs, from a race of Hindu 

head, and throw it into the fire, he would he resus- 
citated to the enjoyment of the greatest glory. The 
Guru excused himself from trying this experiment, 
deelaring that he was content that his descendants 
should enjoy the fruits of that tree which he had 
planted. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 55 

Rajas*, who founded the cities of Casur 
and Lahore. He was born, he stales, at 
Patan, or Patna, and brought up at Madra 
Des, in the Penjab. lie went, after his 
father's death, to the banks of the Cal'mdi, 
or Yamuna, and addicted himself to hunt- 
ing the wild beasts of the forest, and other 
manly diversions : but this occupation, he 
adds, offended the emperor of Dchli, who 
ordered chiefs, of the Muhammedan race, 
to attack him. Guru Govind describes, in 
this work, with great animation, his own 
feats, and those of his friends -j-, in the first 

* These Rajas appear, from the same authority, to 
be descended in a direct line from Hindu gods. 

f The following short extract from the translation 
of the Vichitra Natac, will show that Govind gave his 
friends their full meed of praise, and will also exhibit 
the character of his style : " Cripal rages, wielding his 
" mace : he crushed the skull of the fierce Hj'at 
" Khan. He made the blood spurt aloft, and scat- 
" tered the brains of the chief, as Crishna crushed the 
" earthen vessel of butter. Then Nand Chand raged 
" in dreadful ire, launching the spear, and wielding 



56 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

of his actions ; in which, by his account, 
the arrows of the Sikhs were victori- 

" the sword. He broke his keen scimitar, and drew 
u his dagger, to support the honour of the Sondi race. 
" Then my maternal uncle, Cripal, advanced in his 
u rage, and exhibited the skilful war-feats of a true 
" Cshatriya. The mighty warrior, though struck by 
" an arrow, with another made a valiant Khan fall 
" from his saddle, and Saheb Chand, of the Cshatriya 
" race, strove in the battle's fury, and slew a blood- 
" thirsty Khan, a warrior of Khorasan." After record- 
ing the actions of many others, Govind thus describes 
his own deeds : " The blood-drinking spectres and 
¥ ghosts yelled for carnage; the fierce Vetala, the 
" chief of the spectres, laughed for joy, and sternly 
" prepared for his repast. The vultures hovered 
" around, screaming for their prey. Hari Chand, (a 
" Hindu chief in the emperor's army,) in his wrath, 
" drawing his bow, first struck my steed with an 
" arrow : aiming a second time, he discharged his 
" arrow; but the Deity preserved me, and it passed 
" me, and only grazed my car. His third arrow struck 
" my breast : it tore open the mail, and pierced the 
" skin, leaving a slight scar; but the God whom 1 
" adore saved me. When I felt this hurt, my anger 
" was kindled; I drew my bow and discharged an 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 57 

ous over the sabres of the Muhamme- 
dans *. 

This first success appears to have greatly 
increased the number of Guru Govind's 
followers, whom he established at Anand- 
pur, Khilor, and the towns in their vici- 
nity ; where they remained, till called to 

" arrow : all my champions did the same, rushing 
" onwards to the battle. Then I aimed at the young 
" hero, and struck him. Hari Chand perished, and 
" many of his host ; death devoured him, who was 
" called a Raja among a hundred thousand Rajas. 
" Then all the host, struck with consternation, fled, 
" deserting the field of combat. I obtained the vic- 
" tory through the favour of the Most High; and, 
" victorious in the field, we raised aloud the song of 
" triumph. Riches fell on us like rain, and all our 
" warriors were glad." 

* Hyat Khan and Nejabet Khan are mentioned as 
two of the principal chiefs of the emperor's army that 
fell in this first action. Govind, speaking of the fall 
of the latter, says : " When Nejabet Khan fell, the 
" world exclaimed, Alas ! but the region of Svvarga 
" (the heavens) shouted victory." 



58 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

aid the Raja of Nadon*, Bhima Chand, 
who was threatened with an invasion by 
the Raja, of Jammu ; who had been excited 
to hostilities by Mia Khan, a Mogul chief, 
then at war with Bhima Chand. 

Guru Govind gives an account of this 
war, which consisted of attacking and de- 
fending the narrow passes of the moun- 
tains. He describes Bhima Chand and him- 
self as leading on their warriors, who ad- 
vanced, he says, to battle, " like a stream 
" of flame consuming the forest." They 
were completely successful in this expe- 
dition ; the Rajd of Jammu, and his Mu- 

* A mountainous tract of country, that borders on 
the Penjab. It lies to the N. W. of Srinagar, and the 
S. E. of Jammu. The present Raja, Sansar Chand, is 
a chief of great respectability. His country has lately 
been overrun by the Raja of INcpal and Gorc'ha. 1 
derived considerable information regarding this family, 
and their territories, from the envoy of Sansar Chand, 
who attended Lord Lake, in 1805, when the British 
army was in the Penjab. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 59 

hammedan allies, having been defeated, 
and chased with disgrace across the Satlej. 
Guru Govind next relates the advance 
of the son of Dilawer Khan against him. 
The object of the Muhammcdan chief 
appears to have been, to surprise Govind 
and his followers at night : but, when that 
project was defeated, his troops were seized 
with a panic, and fled from the Sikhs with- 
out a contest. The father, enraged at the 
disgraceful retreat of his son, collected all 
his followers, and sent Ilusain Khan, who 
made successful inroads upon the Sikhs, 
taking several of their principal forts *. A 



* Though the account of this war is given iti a 
style sufficiently inflated for the wars of the demons 
and angels ; yet, as Govind relates, that Husain Khan 
returned a messenger, which one of the principal liajas 
had sent him, with this message to his master ; " Pay 
" down ten thousand rupees, or destruction descends 
" on thy head ;" we may judge, both from the demand, 
and the amount of the contribution, of the nature of 
this contest, as well as its scale. It was evidently one 
of those petty provincial wars, which 4 took place in 



50 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

general action at last took place, in which 
the Khan, after performing prodigies of 
valour, was defeated, and lost his life. Guru 
Govind was not present at this battle. 
" The lord of the earth/' he says, " de- 
" tained me from this conflict, and caused 
" the rain of steel to descend in another 
" quarter/' 

Dilawer Khan and Rustam Khan next 
marched against the Sikhs, who appear to 
have been disheartened at the loss of some 
of their principal chiefs, and more at the 
accounts they received of Aurungzeb's 
rage at their progress, and of his having 
detached his son to the district of Madra*, 

every remote part of the Indian empire, when it was 
distracted : and, at this period, Aurungzeb was wholly 
engaged in the Dek'hin, and the northern provinces 
were consequently neglected, and their governments 
in a weak and unsettled state. 

# This must have been in the year 1701, when 
Bahader Shah was detached from the Dek'hin to take 
charge of the government of Cabul, and was probably 
ordered, at the same time, to settle the disturbances in 
the Penjab. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 61 

in order to take measures to quell them. At 
the prince's approach, " every body," says 
Guru Govind, " was struck with terror. 
" Unable to comprehend the ways of the 
" Eternal, several deserted me, and fled, 
" and took refuge in the lofty mountains. 
" These vile cowards were," he adds, " too 
" greatly alarmed in mind to understand 
" their own advantage; for the emperor 
" sent troops, who burnt the habitations of 
" those that had fled." He takes this oc- 
casion of denouncing every misery that 
this world can bring, and all the pains and 
horrors of the next, on those who desert 
their Guru, or priest. " The man who 
" does this," he writes, " shall neither have 
" child nor offspring. His aged parents 
" shall die in grief and sorrow, and he 
" shall perish like a dog, and be thrown 
" into hell to lament." After many more 
curses on apostates, he concludes this ana- 
thema by stating, that the good genius 
of prosperity in this world, and eternal 



62 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

blessings in the next, shall be the certain 
reward of all who remain attached to their 
Guru : and, as an instance, he affirms, that 
not one of those faithful followers, who had 
adhered to him at this trying crisis, had 
received the least injury*. 

Guru Govind closes his first work, the 
Vichitra Natac, with a further representa- 
tion on the shame that attends apostasy, 
and the rewards that await those that prove 
true to their religion ; and he concludes 
by a prayer to the Deity, and a declaration 
of his intention to compose, for the use 
of his disciples, a still larger work ; by which 

* There is a remarkable passage in this chapter, in 
which Guru Govind appears to acknowledge the 
supremacy of the emperor. " God," he says, " formed 
" both Baba (Nanac) and Baber (the emperor of that 
" name). Look upon Baba as the Padshah (king) of 
" religion, and Baber, the lord of the world. He 
" who will not give Nanac a single damri, (a coin the 
" sixteenth part of an ana,) will receive a severe 
a punishment from Baber." 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 5*3 

the Sikhs conceive that he meant the rest 
of the Dasama Padshah ka Grant'h, of 
which the Vichitra Natac forms the first 
section. 

An account of Govind's war with the 
Raja of Kahilur*, is found in a work writ- 
ten in the Dugar, or mountain dialect of 
the Penjabi tongue, which gives an account 
of some other actions of this chief. Though 
this account is greatly exaggerated, it no 
doubt states some facts correctly, and there- 
fore merits a brief notice. According to 
this authority, the Rajas of Kahilur, Jiswal, 
and others, being defeated and disgraced in 
several actions, applied to the court of 
Aurungzeb for aid against Guru Govind, 
from whom, they stated that they had 
received great injuries. When the emperor 

* Kahilfir, or Kahlore, is situated on the Satlej, 
above Mak'haval. It is near the mountains through 
which that river flows into the Penjab. Another 
place of the name of Kahlur, or Kahlore, is situated a 
short distance from Lahore, to the N. E. of that city. 



64 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

asked who made the complaint, the answer 
was: " It is the chief of Kahilur, thy 
" servant, who has been despoiled of his 
" country by violence, though a faithful 
" Zemindar (landholder), and one who has 
" always been punctual in paying his con- 
" tributions." Such were the representa- 
tions, this author states, by which they 
obtained the aid of an army from the 
emperor. 

Their combined forces proceeded against 
Guru Govind and his followers, who 
were obliged to shut themselves up in 
their fortresses, where they endured every 
misery that sickness and famine can bring 
upon a besieged place. Govind, after 
suffering the greatest hardships, deter- 
mined to attempt his escape. He ordered 
his followers to leave the fort, one by one, 
at midnight, and to separate the moment 
they went out. The misery of this separa- 
tion, which divided the father from the 
child, the husband from the wife, and 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 6$ 

brothers from sisters, was horrible; but it 
was the only chance which they had of 
safety, and his orders were obeyed. He 
himself went, among the rest; and, after 
undergoing great fatigue, and escaping 
many dangers, he arrived at Chamk6ur, by 
the Raja of which place he was received in 
a kind and friendly manner. His enemies 
had entered the fortress which Govind left, 
the moment he fled, and made many pri- 
soners ; among which were his mother and 
his two children, who were carried to 
Foujdar Khan, the governor of Sirhind, 
by whose orders they were inhumanly mas- 
sacred*. The army of the emperor, aided 
by the Rajas hostile to Govind, next marched 
to Chamkour, and encompassed it on all 
sides. Govind, in despair, clasping his 
hands, called upon the goddess of the 
sword -j\ " The world sees," he exclaimed, 

* The Muhammedan authors blame Vizir Khan for 
this unnecessary and impolitic act of barbarity, 
f Bhavani Durga. 

F 



66 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

" that we have no help but thee ! " saying 
which, he prepared, with his few followers, 
to make the most desperate resistance. 

The emperor's army, employed at this 
period against Govind, was commanded by 
Khwajeh Muhammed and Nahar Khan, 
who deputed, at the commencement of the 
siege, an envoy to the Sikh leader, with the 
following message : "This army is not one 
" belonging to Rajas and Rands : it is that 
" of the great Aurungzeb : show, therefore, 
" thy respect, and embrace the true faith." 
The envoy proceeded, in the execution of 
his mission, with all the pride of those he 
represented. " Listen/' said he, from him- 
self to Guru Govind, " to the words of the 
" Nawab : leave off contending with us, 
" and playing the infidel ; for it is evident 
" you never can reap advantage from such 
" an unequal war." He was stopped by 
Ajit Singh, the son of Govind, from saying 
more. That youth, seizing his scimetar, 
exclaimed : " If you utter another word, I 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 67 

" will humble your pride : I will smite 
" your head from your body, and cut you 
" to pieces, for daring to speak such lan- 
" guage before our chiefs/' The blood of 
the envoy boiled with rage, and he returned 
with this answer to his master. 

This effort to subdue the fortitude and 
faith of Govind having failed, the siege 
commenced with great vigour. A long 
description is given by B'hai Guru Das 
B'hale and other Sikh authors, of the ac- 
tions that were performed. Amongst the 
most distinguished, were those of the brave, 
but unfortunate, Ajit Singh*, the son of 

* In the Penjabi narrative of B'hai Guru Das 
B'hale, the actions of Ajit Singh, and Ranjit Singh, 
sons of Govind, are particularly described ; and, from 
one part of the description, it would appear that the 
family of Govind, proud of their descent, had not laid 
aside the zunar, or holy cord, to which they were, as 
belonging to the Cshatriya race, entitled. Speaking 
of these youths, the author says : " Slaughtering every 
" Turk and Pahlan whom they saw, they adorned 



68 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

Guru Govind, whose death is thus recorded r 
" A second time the Khan advanced, and 
" the battle raged. Some fought, some 
" fled. Ajit Singh, covered with glory, 
" departed to Svvarga (heaven). Indra*, 
" first of the gods (Devatas), advanced 
" with the celestial host to meet him ; he 
" conducted him to Devapur, the city of 
" the gods, and seated him on a celestial 
" throne : having remained there a short 
" time, he proceeded to the region of the 
" sun. Thus/' he concludes, " Ajit Singh 
" departed in glory ; and his fame extends 

" their sacred strings, by converting them into sword- 
" belts. Returning from the field, they sought their 
" father, who bestowed a hundred blessings on their 
" scimetars." 

* The Sikh author, though he may reject the super- 
stitious idolatry of the Hindus, adorns his descriptions 
with every image its mythology can furnish ; and 
claims for his hero the same high honours in Swarga, 
that a Brahmen would expect for one of the Pandu 
race. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 69 

" over three worlds, for the fame of the 
" warrior lives for ever/' 

Though Govind showed an invincible 
spirit, and performed prodigies of valour, 
having killed, with his own hand, Nahar 
Khan, and wounded Khwajeh Muhammed, 
the other leader of the emperor's troops, 
it was impossible to contend longer against 
such superior numbers ; and he at last, 
taking advantage of a dark night, fled from 
Chamkour, covering his face, according to 
the Sikh author, from shame at his own 
disgrace. 

This sketch of the life of Govind is com- 
piled from his own works, and those of 
other Sikh writers, such as Nand and B'hai 
Guru Das ; and the events recorded, allow- 
ing for the colouring with which such nar- 
ratives are written in the East, appear to be 
correct : the leading facts are almost all 
established by the evidence of contemporary 
Muhammedan writers, to whom we must 
trust for the remainder of his history ; as 



70 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

the authorities we have followed end at the 
period of his flight from Chamkour. 

Most accounts agree that Guru Govind, 
after his flight, was, from a sense of his 
misfortunes, and the loss of his children, 
bereft of his reason, and wandered about 
for a considerable time in the most de- 
plorable condition. One account states, 
that he died in the Penjab; another, that 
he went to Patna, where he ended his days ; 
a third, taken from a Sikh authority*, as- 
serts that Gtiru Govind, after remaining 
some time in the Lak'hi-Jungle, to which 
he had fled, returned without molestation 



* Mr. Foster has followed this authority in his 
account of the Sikh nation : and I am inclined to 
believe that the part of it which relates to Guru G6- 
vind's dying at Nader, in the Dek'hin, of a wound 
received from a Patan, is correct; as it is written on 
the last page of a copy of the Adi-Grant'h, in my pos- 
session, with several other facts relative to the dates of 
the births and deaths of the principal high priests of 
the Sikhs. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 71 

to his former residence in the Penjab ; and 
that, so far from meeting with any per- 
secution from the Muhammedan govern- 
ment, he received favours from the em- 
peror, Bahader Shah ; who, aware of his 
military talents, gave him a small military 
command in the Dek'hin, where he was 
stabbed by a Patan soldier's son, and ex- 
pired of his wounds, in the year 1708, at 
Nader, a town situate on the Godaveri river, 
about one hundred miles from Haiderabad. 
It is sufficiently established, from these 
contradictory and imperfect accounts of the 
latter years of Guru Govind, that he per- 
formed no actions worthy of record after 
his flight from Chamkour: and when we 
consider the enthusiastic ardour of his mind, 
his active habits, his valour, and the insa- 
tiable thirst of revenge, which he had 
cherished through life, against the mur- 
derers of his father, and the oppressors of 
his sect, we cannot think, when that leading 
passion of his mind must have been in- 



72 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

creased by the massacre of his children, 
and the death or mutilation* of his most 
attached followers, that he would have 
remained inactive ; much less that he would 
have sunk into a servant of that govern- 
ment, against which he had been in con- 
stant rebellion : nor is it likely that such a 
leader as Guru Govind could ever have 
been trusted by a Muhammedan prince : 
and there appears, therefore, every reason 
to give credit to those accounts which state, 
that mental distraction, in consequence of 
deep distress and disappointment, was the 
cause of the inactivity of Guru Govind's 
declining years. Nor is such a conclusion at 
all at variance with the fact of his being 
killed at Nader, as it is probable, even if 
he was reduced to the state described, thai 
he continued, till the close of his existence, 

* Both at Chamkour, and other forts, from which 
the famished Sikhs attempted to escape, many of 
them were taken, and had their noses and ears 
cut off. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 73 

that wandering and adventurous life to 
which he had been so early accustomed. 

In the character of this reformer of the 
Sikhs, it is impossible not to recognise 
many of those features which have dis- 
tinguished the most celebrated founders of 
political communities. The object he at- 
tempted was great and laudable. It was 
the emancipation of his tribe from op- 
pression and persecution ; and the means 
which he adopted, were such as a compre- 
hensive mind could alone have suggested. 
The Muhammedan conquerors of India, as 
they added to their territories, added to 
their strength, by making proselytes through 
the double means of persuasion and force ; 
and these, the moment they had adopted 
their faith, became the supporters of their 
power against the efforts of the Hindus ; 
who, bound in the chains of their civil and 
religious institutions, could neither add to 
their number by admitting converts, nor 



74 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

allow more than a small proportion of the 
population of the country to arm against 
the enemy. Govind saw that he could 
only hope for success by a bold departure 
from usages which were calculated to keep 
those, by whom they were observed, in 
a degraded subjection to an insulting and 
intolerant race. " You make Hindus Mu- 
" hammedans, and are justified by your 
" laws," he is said to have written to Au- 
rungzeb : " now I, on a principle of self- 
" preservation, which is superior to all 
" laws, will make Muhammedans Hindus*. 
" You may rest," he added, " in fancied 
" security : but beware ! for I will teach 
" the sparrow to strike the eagle to the 
" ground." A fine allusion to his design of 

* Meaning Sikhs; whose faith, though it differs 
widely from the present worship of the Hindus, has 
been thought to have considerable analogy to the 
pure and simple religion originally followed by that 
nation. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 75 

inspiring the lowest races among the Hindus 
with that valour and ambition which would 
lead them to perform the greatest actions. 

The manner in which Govind endea- 
voured to accomplish the great plan he 
had formed, has been exhibited in the im- 
perfect sketch given of his life. His efforts 
to establish that temporal power in his own 
person, of which he laid the foundation for 
his tribe, were daring and successful in as 
great a degree as circumstances would 
admit : but it was not possible he could 
create means, in a few years, to oppose, 
with success, the force of one of the greatest 
empires in the universe. The spirit, how- 
ever, which he infused into his followers, 
was handed down as a rich inheritance to 
their children ; who, though they consider 
Baba Nanac as the author of their religion, 
revere, with a just gratitude, Guru Govind, 
as the founder of their worldly greatness 
and political independence. They are con- 
scious, indeed, that they have become, from 



76 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

the adoption of his laws and institutions, 
the scourge of their enemies ; and have con- 
quered and held, for more than half a 
century, the finest portion of the once great 
empire of the house of Taimur. 
. Guru Govind was the last acknowledged 
religious ruler of the Sikhs. A prophecy 
had limited their spiritual guides to the 
number of ten; and their superstition, aided, 
no doubt, by the action of that spirit of 
independence which his institutions had 
introduced, caused its fulfilment. The suc- 
cess, however, of Banda, a Bairagi, who 
was the devoted follower and friend of 
Guru Govind, established their union under 
his banners. A short period after Govind's 
death, the grief of Banda at the misfortune 
of his priest, is said, by Sikh authors, to 
have settled into a gloomy and desperate 
desire to revenge his wrongs. The con- 
fusion which took place on the death of 
Aurungzeb, which happened in the year 
1707, was favourable to his wishes. After 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 77 

plundering the country, and defeating most 
of the petty Muhammedan chiefs that were 
opposed to him, he thought himself suffi- 
ciently strong to venture on an action with 
Foujdar Khan, the governor of the province 
of Sarhind, and the man of all others most 
abhorred by the Sikhs, as the murderer of 
the infant children of Guru Govind. This 
action was fought with valour by the Mu- 
hammedans ; and with all that desperation 
on the part of the Sikhs, which the most 
savage spirit of revenge could inspire : and 
this, aided by the courage and conduct 
of their leader, gave them the victory, after 
a severe contest. Foujdar Khan fell, with 
most of his army, to whom the enraged 
Sikhs gave no quarter. Nor was their savage 
revenge satiated by the destruction of the 
Muhammedan army: they put to death 
the wife and children of Vizir Khan, and 
almost all the inhabitants of Sarhind. They 
destroyed or polluted the mosques of that 
city ; and, in a spirit of wild and brutal 



78 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

rage, dug up the carcasses of the dead, 
and exposed them to be devoured by 
beasts of prey. Encouraged by this suc- 
cess, and hardened by the lessons of 
Banda to deeds of the most horrid atro- 
city, the Sikhs rushed forward, and sub- 
dued all the country between the Satlej 
and the Jumna; and, crossing that river, 
made inroads into the province of Sa- 
haranpur*. It is unnecessary to state 
the particulars of this memorable incursion, 
which, from all accounts, appears to have 
been one of the severest scourges with 
which a country was ever afflicted. Every 
excess that the most wanton barbarity could 
commit, every cruelty that an unappeased 
appetite of revenge could suggest, was in- 
flicted upon the miserable inhabitants of 
the provinces through which they passed. 
Life was only granted to those who con- 

* This province lies a few miles to the N. E. of 
Dehli, between the rivers Jumna and Ganges. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 79 

formed to the religion, and adopted the 
habits and dress of the Sikhs ; and if Be- 
hadur Shah had not quitted the Dek'hin, 
which he did in A. D. 1710, there is reason 
to think the whole of Hindustan would 
have been subdued by these merciless in- 
vaders. 

The first check the Sikhs received was 
from an army under Sultan Kuli Khan. 
That chief defeated one of their advanced 
corps at Panipat'h, which, after being dis- 
persed, fled to join their leader Banda, at 
Sarhind. The death of Behadur Shah pre- 
vented this success from being pursued ; 
and the confusion which followed that event, 
was favourable to the Sikhs. Banda de- 
feated Islam Khan, the viceroy of Lahore, 
and one of his fanatic followers stabbed 
Bayezid Khan, the governor of Sarhind, 
who had marched out of that town to 
encounter this army. This, however, was 
the last of Banda's successful atrocities. 
Abdal Samad Khan, a general of great 



80 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

reputation, was detached, with a large army, 
by the emperor Farakhseir, against the 
Sikhs, whom he defeated in a very des- 
perate action ; in which, agreeable to Mu- 
hammedan authors, Banda performed pro- 
digies of valour, and was only obliged to 
give way to the superior numbers and dis- 
cipline of the imperialists. The Sikhs were 
never able to make a stand after this defeat, 
and were hunted, like wild beasts, from one 
strong hold to another, by the army of 
the emperor; by whom their leader, and 
his most devoted followers, were at last 
taken, after having suffered every extreme 
of hunger and fatigue*. 

Abdal Samad Kh&n put to death great 

* They were taken in the fort of Lohgad, which is 
one hundred miles to the north-east of Lahore. This 
fortress was completely surrounded, and the Sikhs 
were only starved into surrender, having been reduced 
to such extremes, that they were reported to have 
eaten, what to them must have been most horrible, the 
flesh of the cow. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 81 

numbers of the Sikhs after the surrender of 
Lohgad, the fortress in which they took 
refuge ; but sent Banda, and the principal 
chiefs of the tribe, to Dehli, where they 
were first treated with every kind of obloquy 
and insult, and then executed. A Mu- 
harnmedan writer* relates the intrepidity 
with which these Sikh prisoners, but par- 
ticularly their leader, Banda, met death. 
" It is singular," he writes, " thai these 
" people not only behaved firmly during 
" the execution, but they would dispute 
" and wrangle with each other who should 
" suffer first ; and they made interest with 
" the executioner to obtain the preference. 
" Banda/' he continues, " was at last pro- 
" duced, his son being seated in his lap. 
" His father was ordered to cut his throat, 
" which he did, without uttering one word. 
" Being then brought nearer the magis- 

* The author of the Seir Mutakherin. 
G 



32 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

" trate's tribunal, the latter ordered his 
" flesh to be torn off with red hot pincers ; 
" and it was in those moments he expired : 
" his black soul taking its flight, by one of 
" those wounds, towards the regions for 
" which it was so well fitted." 

Thus perished Banda; who, though a 
brave and able leader, was one of the most 
cruel and ferocious of men, and endea- 
voured to impart to his followers that feel- 
ing of merciless resentment which he che- 
rished against the whole Muhammedan 
race, whom he appears to have thought 
accountable for the cruelty and oppression 
of a few individuals of the persuasion*. 

* It is necessary, however, to state, that there is a 
schismatical sect of Sikhs, who are termed Bandai, or 
the followers of Banda, who totally deny this account 
of the death of Banda, and maintain that he escaped 
severely wounded from his last battle, and took refuge 
in B'habar, where he quietly ended his days, leaving 
two sons, Ajit Singh and Zorawcr Singh, who success- 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 83 

Though the Sikhs, from being animated 
by a similar feeling, and encouraged by his 
first successes, followed Banda to the field, 
they do not revere his memory; and he 
is termed, by some of their authors, a 
heretic ; who, intoxicated with victory, en- 
deavoured to change the religious institu- 
tions and laws of Guru G6vind, many of 
whose most devoted followers this fierce 
chief put to death, because they refused 
to depart from those usages which that 
revered spiritual leader had taught them to 
consider sacred. Among other changes, 
Banda wished to make the Sikhs abandon 
their blue dress, to refrain from drinking 
and eating flesh ; and, instead of exclaim- 
ing Wd I Gdruji ki Futteh ! Wd ! Khdlsaji 
ki Futteh ! the salutations directed by G6- 
vind, he directed them to exclaim, Futteh 

fully propagated his doctrine. This sect chiefly re- 
sides in Multan, Tata, and the other cities on the 
banks of the Indus. They receive the Adi-Grant'h, 
but not the Dasama Padshah ka Grant'h. 



84 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

D'herm ! Futteh dersan ! which means, 
" Success to piety! Success to the sect!" 
These innovations were very generally re- 
sisted ; but the dreaded severity of Banda 
made many conform to his orders. The 
class of Acalis*, or immortals, who had 
been established by Guru Govind, con- 
tinued to oppose the innovations with great 
obstinacy ; and many of them suffered mar- 
tyrdom, rather than change either their 
mode of salutation, diet, or dress ; and, 
at the death of Banda, their cause tri- 
umphed. All the institutions of Guru Go- 
vind were restored : but the blue dress, 
instead of being, as at first, worn by all, 
appears, from that date, to have become 
the particular right of the Acalis, whose 
valour, in its defence, well merited the ex- 
clusive privilege of wearing this original 
uniform of a true Sikh. 

# An account of this class of Sikhs will be hereafter 
given. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 85 

After the defeat and death of Banda, 
every measure was taken, that an active 
resentment could suggest, not only to de- 
stroy the power, but to extirpate the race, 
of the Sikhs. An astonishing number of 
that sect must have fallen, in the last two 
or three years of the contest with the im- 
perial armies, as the irritated Muhamme- 
dans gave them no quarter. After the 
execution of their chief, a royal edict was 
issued, ordering all who professed the reli- 
gion of Nanac to be taken and put to 
death, wherever found. To give effect 
to this mandate, a reward was offered for 
the head of every Sikh ; and all Hindus 
were ordered to shave their hair off, under 
pain of death. The few Sikhs, that escaped 
this general execution, fled into the moun- 
tains to the N. E. of the Penjab, where 
they found a refuge from the rigorous per- 
secution by which their tribe was pursued ; 
while numbers bent before the tempest 
which they could not resist, and abandoning 



86 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

the outward usages of their religion, satis- 
fied their consciences with the secret practice 
of its rites. 

From the defeat and death of Banda 
till the invasion of India by Nadir Shah, 
a period of nearly thirty years, we hear 
nothing of the Sikhs ; but, on the occur- 
rence of that event, they are stated to have 
fallen upon the peaceable inhabitants of the 
Penjab, who sought shelter in the hills, and 
to have plundered them of that property 
which they were endeavouring to secure 
from the rapacity of the Persian invader. 

Enriched with these spoils, the Sikhs left 
the hills, and built the fort of Dalewal, on 
the Ravi, from whence they made preda- 
tory incursions, and are stated to have 
added both to their wealth and reputation, 
by harassing and plundering the rear of 
Nadir Shah's army, which, when it returned 
to Persia, was encumbered with spoil, and 
marched, from a contempt of its enemies, 
with a disregard to all order. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 87 

The weak state to which the empire of 
Hindustan was reduced ; and the confusion 
into which the provinces of Lahore and 
Cabul were thrown, by the death of Nadir ; 
were events of too favourable a nature to 
the Sikhs to be neglected by that race, who 
became daily more bold, from their num- 
bers being greatly increased by the union 
of all those who had taken shelter in the 
mountains; the readmission into the sect 
of those who, to save their lives, had ab- 
jured, for a period, their usages; and the 
conversion of a number of proselytes, who 
hastened to join a standard, under which 
robbery was made sacred ; and to plunder, 
was to be pious. 

Aided with these recruits, the Sikhs now- 
extended their irruptions over most of the 
provinces of the Penjab : and though it was 
some time before they repossessed them- 
selves of Amritsar, they began, immediately 
after they quitted their fastnesses, to flock 
to that holy city at the periods of their 



88 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

feasts. Some performed this pilgrimage in 
secret, and in disguise : but in general, ac- 
cording to a contemporary Muhammedan 
author, the Sikh horsemen were seen riding, 
at full gallop, towards " their favourite 
" shrine of devotion. They were often 
" slain in making this attempt, and some- 
" times taken prisoners ; but they used, on 
" such occasions, to seek, instead of avoid- 
" ing, the crown of martyrdom : and the 
" same authority states, that an instance 
" was never known of a Sikh, taken in his 
" way to Amritsar, consenting to abjure his 
" faith." 

It is foreign to the object of this sketch 
to enter into a detail of those efforts by 
which the Sikhs rose into that power which 
ihey now possess. It will be sufficient lo 
glance at the principal events which have 
marked their progress, from the period of 
their emerging from the mountains, to which 
they had been driven after the death of 
Banda, to that of the conquest and subjec- 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 89 

tion of those fine provinces over which their 
rule is now established. This sect, as has 
been before stated, have never admitted 
a spiritual leader since the death of Guru 
Govind. It was success, and the force of 
a savage but strong genius, which united 
them, for a period, under Banda; and they 
have, since his death, had no acknowledged 
general, leader, or prince. Each individual 
followed to the field the Sirdar or chief, 
who, from birth, the possession of property, 
or from valour and experience, had become 
his superior. These chiefs again were of 
different rank and pretensions: a greater 
number of followers, higher reputation, the 
possession of wealth, or lands, constituted 
that difference ; and, from one or other of 
these causes, one chief generally enjoyed a 
decided pre-eminence, and, consequently, 
had a lead in their military councils. But, 
nevertheless, they always went through the 
form of selecting a military leader at their 
Guru-mata, or national council; where, 



90 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

however, influence prevailed, and the most 
powerful was certain of being elected. 

Such a mode of government was in itself 
little calculated to give that strength and 
union which the cause of the Sikhs re- 
quired : but the peculiarities of their usages, 
the ardent character of their faith, the power 
of their enemies, and the oppression they 
endured, amply supplied the place of all 
other ordinances. To unite and to act in 
one body, and on one principle, was, with 
the first Sikhs, a law of necessity : it was, 
amid the dangers with which they were 
surrounded, their only hope of success, and 
their sole means of preservation : and it 
was to these causes, combined with the 
weakness and internal contests of their ene- 
mies, to which this sect owes its extraordi- 
nary rise, — not to their boasted constitution ; 
which, whether we call it an oligarchy, 
which it really is ; or a theocracy, which the 
Sikhs consider it ; has not a principle in its 
composition that would preserve it one day 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. gx 

from ruin, if vigorously assailed. But of 
this their history will furnish the best 
example. 

Encouraged by the confusion which took 
place on the first Afghan* invasion, the 
Sikhs made themselves masters of a con- 
siderable part of the Duab of Ravi and 
Jalendra-f-, and extended their incursions 
to the neighbouring countries. They, how- 
ever, at this period received several severe 
checks from Mir Manu, the governor of 
Lahore, who is said, by Muhammedan 
authors, to have been only withheld from 
destroying them by the counsel of his 
minister, Koda Mai, who was himself a 
Sikh of the KhalasaJ tribe. Mir Manu 

* A. D. 1746. 

f The country between the rivers Ravi and Beyah, 
and that river and the Satlej. 

J A sect of non-conformist Sikhs, who believe in the 
Adi-Grant'h of Nanac, but do not conform to the insti- 
tutions of Guru Govind. They are called Khalasa. 
This word is said, by some, to be from khalis, pure or 



92 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

appointed Adina Beg Khan to the charge 
of the countries in which the Sikhs main- 
tained themselves ; and, as that able but 
artful chief considered this turbulent tribe 
in no other light than as the means of his 
personal advancement, he was careful not 
to reduce them altogether; but, after defeat- 
ing them in an action, which was fought 
near Mak'haval, he entered into a secret 
understanding with them, by which, though 
their excursions were limited, they enjoyed 
a security to which they had been unac- 
customed, and from which they gathered 
strength and resources for future efforts. 

At the death of Mir Manu*, the Sikhs 
took all those advantages, which the local 
distractions of a falling empire offered them, 
of extending and establishing their power. 

select, and to mean the purest, or the select : by others, 
from khalas,free, and to mean the freed or exempt, 
alluding to the tribe being exempt from the usages 
imposed on the other Sikhs. 
* A. D. 1752. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 93 

Their bands, under their most active leaders, 
plundered in every direction, and were suc- 
cessful in obtaining possession of several 
countries, from which they have never since 
been expelled : and their success, at this 
period, was promoted, instead of being 
checked, by the appointment of their old 
friend, Adina Beg Khan, to Lahore; as 
that brave chief, anxious to defend his own 
government against the Afghans, imme- 
diately entered into a confederacy with the 
Sikhs, whom he encouraged to plunder the 
territories of Ahmed Shah Abdali. 

The Afghan monarch, resenting this pre- 
datory warfare, in which the governor of 
Lahore was supported by the court of 
Dehli, determined upon invading India. 
Adina Beg, unable to oppose him, fled ; 
and the Sikhs could only venture to plunder 
the baggage, and cut off the stragglers of 
the Afghan army ; by which they so irritated 
Ahmed Shah, that he threatened them with 
punishment on his return ; and, when he 



94 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

marched to Cabul, he left his son, Taimur 
Khan, and his vizir, Jehan Khan, at La- 
hore, with orders to take vengeance on the 
Sikhs for all the excesses which they had 
committed. The first expedition of Taimur 
Khan was against their capital, Amritsar, 
which he destroyed, filling up their sacred 
tank, and polluting all their places of wor- 
ship: by which action he provoked the 
whole race to such a degree, that they all 
assembled at Lahore, and not only at- 
tempted to cut off the communication 
between the fort and country, but collected 
and divided the revenues of the towns and 
villages around it. Taimur Khan, enraged 
at this presumption, made several attacks 
upon them, but was constantly defeated ; 
and being at last reduced to the necessity 
of evacuating Lahore, and retreating to 
Cabul, the Sikhs, under one of their cele- 
brated leaders, called Jasa Singh Calal, im- 
mediately took possession of the vacant 
Subah of Lahore, and ordered rupees to be 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 95 

coined, with an inscription to the following 
import: " Coined by the grace of Khal- 
" sah ji, in the country of Ahmed, con- 
" quered by Jasa Singh Calal." 

The Sikhs, who were so deeply indebted 
to the forbearance of Adina Beg Khan, 
now considered themselves above the power 
of that chief; who, in order to regain his 
government from them and the Afghans, 
was obliged to invite the Mahrata leaders, 
Raghunat'h Rao, Saheb Pateil, and Malhar 
Rao, to enter the Penjab. Aided by these 
chiefs, he first advanced to Sarhind, where 
he was joined by some Sikhs that remained 
attached to him. Samad Khan, the officer 
who had been left in charge of Sarhind 
by Ahmed Khan, found himself obliged to 
evacuate that place ; which he had no 
sooner done, than the Sikhs began to 
plunder. The Mahratas, always jealous of 
their booty, determined to attack and punish 
them for this violation of what they deemed 
their exclusive privilege : but Adina Beg 



96 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 



receiving intelligence of their intentions, 
communicated it to the Sikhs ; who, taking 
advantage of the darkness of the night, 
saved themselves by flight. 

After the fall of Sarhind, the Mahratas, 
accompanied by Adina Beg Khan, ad- 
vanced to Lahore, and soon expelled both 
the Sikhs and the Afghans from the prin- 
cipal towns of the provinces of Sarhind and 
Lahore ; of which they not only took pos- 
session, but sent a governor to the province 
of Multan ; and Saheb Pateil advanced to 
the Attock*, where he remained for a few 
months. But the commotions of Hindus- 
tan and the Dek'hin soon obliged these 
foreigners to abandon the Penjab; which 
they did the same year they had reduced 
it. They appointed Adina Beg Khan go- 
vernor of Lahore. He died in the ensuing 

# The empire of the Mahratas had, at this proud 
moment, reached its zenith. The battle of Panipat'h 
took place soon afterwards; since which it has rapidly 
declined. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 97 

year ; and, by his death, afforded an oppor- 
tunity to the Sikhs, which they eagerly 
seized, to make themselves again masters 
of the province of Lahore. Their success 
was, however, soon checked by Ahmed 
Shah Abdali ; who, irritated by their unsub- 
dued turbulence, and obstinate intrepidity, 
made every effort (after he had gained the 
victory of Panipat'h, which established his 
supremacy at Dehli) to destroy their power ; 
and, with this view, he entered the Penjab 
early in 1762, and overran the whole of 
that country with a numerous army, defeat- 
ing and dispersing the Sikhs in every direc- 
tion. That sect, unable to make any stand 
against the army of the Abdali, pursued 
their old plan of retreating near the moun- 
tains ; and collected a large force in the 
northern districts of Sarhind, a distance of 
above one hundred miles from Lahore, 
where the army of Ahmed Shah was en- 
camped. Here they conceived themselves 
to be in perfect safety : but that prince 

H 



98 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

made one of those rapid movements for 
which he was so celebrated, and reaching 
the Sikh army on the second day, com- 
pletely surprised, and defeated it with great 
slaughter. In this action, which was fought 
in February, 1762, the Sikhs are said to 
have lost upwards of twenty thousand men, 
and the remainder fled into the hills, aban- 
doning all the lower countries to the Af- 
ghans, who committed every ravage that a 
barbarous and savage enemy could devise. 
Amritsar was razed to the ground, and the 
sacred reservoir again choaked with its 
ruins. Pyramids* were erected, and covered 
with the heads of slaughtered Sikhs : and it 
is mentioned, that Ahmed Shah caused the 
walls of those mosques, which the Sikhs 
had polluted, to be washed with their blood, 



# This is a very common usage amongst eastern 
conquerors. The history of Jenghiz Khan, Taimur 
and Nadir Shah, afford many examples of this mode 
of treating their vanquished enemies. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 99 

that the contamination might be removed, 
and the insult offered to the religion of Mu- 
hammed expiated*. 

This species of savage retaliation appears 
to have animated, instead of depressing, the 
courage of the Sikhs ; who, though they 
could not venture to meet Ahmed Shah's 
army in action, harassed it with an inces- 
sant predatory warfare ; and, when that 
sovereign was obliged, by the commotions 
of Afghanistan, to return to Cabul, they 
attacked and defeated the general he had 
left in Lahore, and made themselves masters 
of that city, in which they levelled with the 
ground those mosques which the Afghans 
had, a few months before, purified with the 
blood of their brethren. 

Ahmed Shah, in 1763, retook Lahore, 
and plundered the provinces around it ; but, 
being obliged to return to his own country in 
the ensuing year, the Sikhs again expelled his 

* Foster's Travels, Vol. I. p. 279. 



10 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

garrison, and made themselves masters of the 
Penjab; and, from that period until his death, 
a constant war was maintained, in which 
the enterprise and courage of the Afghans 
gradually gave way before the astonishing 
activity and invincible perseverance of their 
enemies ; who, if unable to stand a general 
action, retreated to impenetrable mountains, 
and the moment they saw an advantage, 
rushed again into the plains with renewed 
vigour, and recruited numbers. Several 
Sikh authors, treating of the events of this 
period, mention a great action having been 
fought, by their countrymen, near Amritsar, 
against the whole Afghan army, commanded 
by Ahmed Shah in person ; but they differ 
with regard to the dale of this battle, some 
fixing it in 1762, and others later. They 
pretend that the Sikhs, inspired by the 
sacredness of the ground on which this 
action was fought, contended for victory 
against superior numbers with the most 
desperate fury, and that the battle termi- 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. iQl 

nated in both parties quitting the field, 
without either being able to claim the least 
advantage. The historians of Ahmed Shah 
are, however, silent regarding this action; 
which, indeed, from all the events of his 
long contests with the Sikhs, appears un- 
likely to have occurred. It is possible the 
Sikhs fought, at Amritsar, with a division of 
the Afghan army, and that might have been 
commanded by the prince; but it is very 
improbable they had ever force to en- 
counter the concentrated army of the Ab- 
dalis ; before which, while it remained in 
a body, they appear, from the first to the 
last of their contests with that prince, to 
have always retreated, or rather fled. 

The internal state of Afghanistan, since 
the death of Ahmed Shah, has prevented 
the progress of the Sikh nation receiving 
any serious check from that quarter; and 
the distracted and powerless condition of 
the empire of India has offered province 
after province to their usurpation. Their 



10 2 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

history, during this latter period, affords 
little but a relation of village warfare, and 
predatory incursions. Their hostilities were 
first directed against the numerous Mu- 
hammedan chiefs who were settled in the 
Penjab, and who defended, as long as they 
could, their jagirs, or estates, against them: 
but these have either been conquered, or 
reduced to such narrow limits, as to owe 
their security to their insignificance, or 
the precarious friendship of some powerful 
Sikh chief, whose support they have 
gained; and who, by protecting them 
against the other leaders of his tribe, ob- 
tains a slight accession of strength and 
influence. 

The Sikh nation, who have, throughout 
their early history, always appeared, like a 
suppressed flame, to rise into higher splen- 
dour from every attempt to crush them, 
had become, while they were oppressed, as 
formidable for their union, as for their deter- 
mined courage and unconquerable spirit of 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 103 

resistance : but a state of persecution and 
distress was the one most favourable for the 
action of a constitution like theirs ; which, 
formed upon general and abstract prin- 
ciples, required constant and great sacri- 
fices of personal advantage to the public 
good; and such can alone be expected 
from men, acting under the influence of 
that enthusiasm, which the fervor of a new 
religion, or a struggle for independence, can 
alone impart, and which are ever most 
readily made, when it becomes obvious to 
all, that a complete union in the general 
cause is the only hope of individual 
safety. 

The Sikhs would appear, from their own 
historians, to have attributed the conquests 
they made entirely to their valour, and to 
have altogether forgot that they owed them 
chiefly to the decline of the house of Tai- 
mur, and the dissensions of the government 
of Cabul. Intoxicated with their success. 



104 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

they have given way to all those passions 
which assail the minds of men in the pos- 
session of power. The desire, which every 
petty chief entertained, of increasing his 
territories, of building strong forts, and 
adding to the numbers of his troops, in- 
volved them in internal wars ; and these, 
however commenced, soon communicated 
to numbers, who engaged in the dispute as 
passion or interest dictated. Though such 
feuds have, no doubt, helped to maintain 
their military spirit, yet their extent and 
virulence have completely broken down 
that union, which their great legislator, 
Govind, laboured to establish. Quarrels 
have been transmitted from father to son ; 
and, in a country where the infant is de- 
voted to steel, and taught to consider war 
as his only occupation, these could not 
but multiply in an extraordinary degree ; 
and, independent of the comparative large 
conquests in which the greater chiefs occa- 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 105 

sionally engaged, every village* has become 
an object of dispute ; and there are few, if 
any, in the Penjab, the rule of which is not 
contested between brothers or near rela- 
tions f. In such a state, it is obvious, the 
Sikhs could alone be formidable to the 
most weak and distracted governments. 
Such, indeed, was the character, till within 
a very late period, of all their neighbours ; 
and they continued to plunder, with im- 

* All the villages in the Penjab are walled round; 
as they are in almost all the countries of India that 
are exposed to sudden incursions of horse, which this 
defence can always repel. 

f When the British and Mahrata armies entered 
the Penjab, they were both daily joined by discon- 
tented petty chiefs of the Sikhs, who offered their aid 
to the power that would put them in the possession of 
a village or a fort, from which, agreeably to their 
statement, they had been unjustly excluded by a 
father or brother. Holkar encouraged these appli- 
cations, and used them to his advantage. The British 
commander abstained from all interference in such 
disputes. 



106 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

punity, the upper provinces of Hindtistan, 
until the establishment of the power of 
Daulet Rao Sindia, when the regular bri- 
gades, commanded by French officers in 
the service of that prince, not only checked 
their inroads, but made all the Sikh chiefs, 
to the southward of the Satlej, acknowledge 
obedience and pay tribute to Sindia: and 
it was in the contemplation of General 
Perron, had the war with the English 
government not occurred, to have subdued 
the Penjab, and made the Indus the limit 
of his possession : and every person ac- 
quainted with his means, and with the 
condition and resources of the Sikhs, must 
be satisfied he would have accomplished 
this project with great ease, and at a very 
early period. 

When Holkar fled into the Penjab, in 
1805, and was pursued by that illustrious 
British commander, Lord Lake, a com- 
plete opportunity was given of observing 
the actual state of this nation, which was 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 107 

found weak and distracted, in a degree 
that could hardly have been imagined. It 
was altogether destitute of union. And 
though a Guru-mata, or national council, 
was called, with a view to decide on those 
means by which they could best avert the 
danger by which their country was threat- 
ened, from the presence of the English and 
Mahrata armies, it was attended by few 
chiefs : and most of the absentees, who had 
any power, were bold and forward in their 
offers to resist any resolution to which this 
council might come. The intrigues and 
negotiations of all appeared, indeed, at this 
moment, to be entirely directed to objects 
of personal resentment, or personal aggran- 
dizement; and every shadow of that con- 
cord, which once formed the strength of 
the Sikh nation, seemed to be extinguished. 



108 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 



SECTION II. 

Neither the limits of this sketch, nor 
the materials from which it is drawn, will 
admit of my giving a particular or correct 
account of the countries possessed by the 
Sikhs, or of their forms of government, 
manners, and habits : but a cursory view of 
these subjects may be useful, and may 
excite and direct that curiosity which il 
cannot expect to gratify. 

The country now possessed by the Sikhs, 
which reaches from latitude 28° 40' to 
beyond latitude 32° N., and includes all the 
Penjab*, a small part of Multan, and most 

* A general estimate of the value of the country 
possessed by the Sikhs may he formed, when it is 
stated, that it contains, besides other countries, the 
whole of the province of Lahore ; which, agreeable to 
Mr. Bernier, produced, in the reign of Aurungzeb, two 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 109 

of that tract of country which lies between 
the Jumna and the Satlej, is bounded, to 
the northward and westward, by the terri- 
tories of the king of Cabul ; to the east- 
ward, by the possessions of the mountaineer 
Rajas of Jammu, Nad6n, and Srinagar; 
and to the southward, by the territories of 
the English government, and the sandy 
deserts of Jasalmer and Hansyd Hisar. 

The Sikhs, who inhabit the country 
between the Satlej and the Jumna, are 
called Malawa Singh, and were almost all 
converted from the Hindu tribes of Jats 
and Gujars. The title of Malawa Singh 
was conferred upon them for their extra- 
ordinary gallantry, under the Bairagi Banda, 
who is stated to have declared, that the 
countries granted to them should be fruitful 



hundred and forty-six lacks and ninety-five thousand 
rupees ; or two millions, four hundred and sixty-nine 
thousand, five hundred pounds sterling. 



HO SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

as Malwa, one of the provinces* in India. 
The principal chiefs among the Malawi 
Singhs, are, Saheb Singh, of Patiala; B'hang& 
Singh, of Thanesur ; B'hag Singh, of Jhind ; 
and B'hailal Singh, of Keintal. Besides 
these, there are several inferior chiefs, such 
as Gurudah Singh, Jud'h Singh, and Carm 
Singh ; all of whom have a few villages, 
and some horse, and consider themselves 
independent; though they, in general, are 
content to secure their possessions by at- 
taching themselves to one or other of the 
more powerful leaders. 

The country of the Malawa Singh is, in 
some parts, fruitful: but those districts of 
it, which border on Hansya and Carnal, are 
very barren ; being covered with low wood, 
and, in many places, almost destitute of 
water. Sarhind was formerly the capital of 

* This province now forms almost the whole terri- 
tory of Daulet Rao Sinclia. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. m 

this country ; but it is now a complete ruin, 
and has probably never recovered the 
dreadful ravages of the Bairagi Banda, who 
is stated not only to have destroyed its 
mosques, but to have levelled all its palaces 
and public buildings with the ground. 
Patiala is now the largest and most flourish- 
ing town of this province, and next to it 
T'hanesur, which is still held in high reli- 
gious veneration by the Hindtis ; who have 
also a very high reverence for the river 
Serasweti, which flows through this pro- 
vince. The territories of the chiefs of Ma- 
lawa Singh are bounded to the N. W. by 
the Satlej ; between which and the Bey ah, 
is the country called the Jalendra Beit, 
or Jalendra Duab; the Sikhs inhabiting 
which are called the DtiaM Singh, or the 
Singhs who dwell between the rivers*. The 

* With the chiefs of the Sikhs in the Jalendra 
Duab we are little acquainted. Tara Singh is the most 



112 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

country of Jalendra Duab, which reaches 
from the mountains to the junction of the 
Satlej and the Beyah, is the most fruitful 
of all the possessions of the Sikhs ; and is, 
perhaps, excelled in climate and vegetation 
by no province of India. The soil is light, 
but very productive : the country, which is 
open and level, abounds with every kind of 
grain. That want of water, which is so 
much felt in other parts of India, must be 
here unknown ; as it is found every where 
in abundance, within two, or at furthest 
three, feet from the surface of the soil. The 
towns of Jalendra and Sultanpur are the 
principal in the Duab. 

The country between the Beyah and 
Ravi rivers is called Bari Duab, or Manj'ha ; 
and the Sikhs inhabiting it are called 



considerable ; but he and the others have been greatly 
weakened by their constant and increasing internal 
divisions. v 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 113 

Manj'ha Singh. The cities of Lahore and 
Amritsar are both in this province; and it 
becomes, in consequence, the great centre 
of the power of this nation. Ranjit Singh, 
of Lahore ; Fateh Singh*, of Alluwal ; and 
Jud'h Singh, of Ramgadia-f ; are the prin- 
cipal chiefs of this country. 

The country of Bari is said to be less 
fertile, particularly towards the mountains, 
than Jalendra ; but, as it lies on the same 
level, it must possess nearly the same cli- 
mate and soil. 

The inhabitants of the country between 
the Ravi and Chanhab, are called D'harpi 
Singh, from the country being called 
D'harpi. The D'hanigheb Singh are be- 
yond the Chanhab J, but within the Jeha- 

lam river. 

/ 

* Fateh Singh is, like Ranjit Singh, of a Jat family. 

f Jud'h Singh, of Ramgadia, is of the carpenter cast. 

I The term Gujarat Singh is sometimes given to 
the inhabitants of this Duab, of which the chiefs of 
Gujarat and Rotas are the principal rulers. 
I 



1X4 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

The Sind Singh is the term by which the 
inhabitants of the districts under the Sikhs, 
bordering on the Sind, are known; and 
Nakai Singh is the name given to the Sikhs 
who reside in Multan. With the leaders of the 
Sikhs in these provinces, the extent of their 
possessions, or the climate and productions 
of the country under their rule, I am little 
acquainted. Those in Multan, as well as 
those settled on the river Jehalam, are said 
to be constantly engaged in a predatory 
warfare, either with the officers of the Af- 
ghan government, or with Muhammedan 
chiefs who have jagirs in their vicinity. 

The government of the Sikhs, considered 
in its theory, may, as has, been before 
stated, be termed a theocracy. They obey 
a temporal chief, it is true ; but that chief 
preserves his power and authority by pro- 
fessing himself the servant of the Khalsa*, 

* The word Khalsa, which has before been ex- 
plained to mean the state or commonwealth, is sup- 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 115 

or government, which can only be said to 
act, in times of great public emergency, 
through the means of a national council, of 
which every chief is a member, and which 
is supposed to deliberate and resolve under 
the immediate inspiration and impulse of 
an invisible being; who, they believe, always 
watches over the interests of the common- 
wealth. 

The nature of the power established by 
the temporal chiefs of the Sikhs, has been 
sufficiently explained in the narrative of 
their history. It will be necessary, before 
any account is given of the forms and 
actions of their Guru-mata, or great national 
council, which is intended to have a su- 
preme authority over their federative re- 
posed, by the Sikhs, to have a mystical meaning 1 , and 
to imply that superior government, under the protec- 
tion of which " they live, and to the established rules 
" and laws of which, as fixed by Guru G6vind, it 
" is their civil and religious duty to conform." 



n g SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

public, to take a view of that body of 
Acalis, or immortals, who, under the double 
character of fanatic priests and desperate 
soldiers, have usurped the sole direction of 
all religious affairs at Amritsar, and are, 
consequently, leading men in a council 
which is held at that sacred place, and 
which deliberates under all the influence of 
religious enthusiasm. 

The Acalis* are a class of Sikh devotees ; 
who, agreeably to the historians of that 
nation, were first founded by Guru Govind, 
whose institutes, as it has been before stated, 
they most zealously defended against the 
innovations of the Bairagi Banda. They 
wear blue chequered clothes, and bangles, 

* Aca.li, derived from Acal, a compound term of 
cal, death, and the Sanscrit privative a, which means 
never-dying, or immortal. It is one of the names of the 
Divinity; and has, probably; been given to this re- 
markable class of devotees, from their always exclaim 
ing Acal ! Acal ! in their devotions. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 117 

or bracelets of steel*, round their wrists, 
initiate converts, and have almost the sole 
direction of the religious ceremonies at Am- 
ritsar, where they reside, and of which they 
deem themselves the defenders ; and, con- 
sequently, never desire to quit it unless in 
cases of great extremity. 

* All Singbs do not wear bracelets ; but it is indis- 
pensable to bave steel about their persons, which they 
generally have in the shape of a knife or dagger. In 
support of this ordinance they quote the following 
verses of Guru Govind : 

Saheb bea ki rach'ha hamne, 
Tuhi Sri Saheb, churi, kati, katar— 
Acal puvukh ki rach'ha hamne, 
Serv loh di rach'ha hamne, 
Servacal di rach'ha hamne, 
Serv lohji di sada rach'ha hamne. 

which may be translated : " The protection of the 
" infinite Lord is over us : thou art the lord, the cut- 
" lass, the knife, and the dagger. The protection of 
" the immortal Being is over us : the protection of 
" all-steel is over us : the protection of all-time 
" is over us : the protection of all-steel is constantly 
u over us." 



H8 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

This order of Sikhs have a place, or 
Bunga*, on the bank of the sacred reser- 
voir of Amritsar, where they generally resort, 
but are individually possessed of properly, 
though they affect poverty, and subsist upon 
charity ; which, however, since their num- 
bers have increased, they generally extort, 
by accusing the principal chiefs of crimes, 
imposing fines upon them ; and, in the 
event of their refusing to pay, preventing 
them from performing their ablutions, or 
going through any of their religious cere- 
monies at Amritsar. 

It will not, when the above circumstances 



* The Shahid and Nirmala, two other religious 
tribes among the Sikhs, have Bungas, or plaees, upon 
the great reservoir of Amritsar; but both these are 
peaceful orders of priests, whose duty is to address the 
Deity, and to read and explain the Adi-Grant'h to the 
Sikhs. They are, in general, men of some education. 
A Sikh, of any tribe, may be admitted into either of 
these classes, as among the Acalis, who admit all into 
their body who choose to conform to their rules. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. ||g 

are considered, be thought surprising, that 
the most powerful of the Sikh chiefs should 
desire to conciliate this body of fanatics, no 
individual of which can be offended with 
impunity, as the cause of one is made the 
cause of the whole ; and a chief, who is 
become unpopular with the Acalis, must 
not only avoid Amritsar, but is likely to 
have his dependants taught, when they pay 
their devotions at that place, that it is 
pious to resist his authority. 

The Ac&lis have a great interest in main- 
taining both the religion and government of 
the Sikhs, as established by Guru G6vind ; 
as, on its continuance in that shape, their 
religious and political influence must de- 
pend. Should Amritsar cease to be a place 
of resort, or be no longer considered as the 
religious capital of the state, in which all 
questions that involve the general interests 
of the commonwealth are to be decided, 
this formidable order would at once fall 
from that power and consideration which 



120 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

they now possess, to a level with other 
mendicants. 

When a Guru-mata, or great national 
council, is called, (as it always is, or ought 
to be, when any imminent danger threatens 
the country, or any large expedition is to 
be undertaken,) all the Sikh chiefs assemble 
at Amritsar. The assembly, which is called 
the Guru-matd, is convened by the Acalis ; 
and when the chiefs meet upon this solemn 
occasion, it is concluded that all private 
animosities cease, and that every man sacri- 
fices his personal feelings at the shrine of 
the general good ; and, actuated by prin- 
ciples of pure patriotism, thinks of nothing 
but the interests of the religion, and com- 
monwealth, to which he belongs. 

When the chiefs and principal leaders 
are seated, the Adi-Grant'h and Dasama 
Padshah ka Grant'h are placed before them. 
They all bend their heads before these scrip- 
tures, and exclaim, Wli ! Guruji ka Khalsa ! 
W& ! Giiriyi hi Fat eh ! A great quantity of 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 121 

cakes, made of wheat, butter, and sugar, 
are then placed before the volumes of their 
sacred writings, and covered with a cloth. 
These holy cakes, which are in comme- 
moration of the injunction of Nanac, to eat 
and to give to others to eat, next receive 
the salutation of the assembly, who then 
rise, and the A calls pray aloud, while the 
musicians play. The Acalis, when the 
prayers are finished, desire the council to 
be seated. They sit down, and the cakes 
being uncovered, are eaten of by all classes* 
of Sikhs: those distinctions of original 
tribes, which are, on other occasions, kept 
up, being on this occasion laid aside, in 
token of their general and complete union 

* A custom of a similar nature, with regard to all 
tribes eating promiscuously, is observed among the 
Hindus, at the temple of Jagannath, where men of 
all religions and casts, without distinction, eat cf the 
Maha Prasad, the great offering; i. e. food dressed 
by the cooks of the idols, and sold on the stairs of 
the temple. 



122 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

in one cause*. The A calls then exclaim : 
" Sirdars! (chiefs) this is a Guru-mata!" 
on which prayers are again said aloud. 
The chiefs, after this, sit closer, and say to 
each other : " The sacred Grant'h is betwixt 
" us, let us swear by our scripture to forget 
" all internal disputes, and to be united/' 
This moment of religious fervor and ardent 
patriotism, is taken to reconcile all ani- 
mosities. They then proceed to consider 
the danger with which they are threatened, 
to settle the best plans for averting it, and 
to choose the generals who are to lead their 

* The Sikh priest, who gave an account of this 
custom, was of a high Hindu tribe ; and, retaining 
some of his prejudices, he at first said, that Muham- 
medan Sikhs, and those who were converts from the 
sweeper cast, were obliged, even on this occasion, to 
eat a little apart from the other Sikhs : but, on being 
closely questioned, he admitted the fact as stated in 
the narrative; saying, however, it was only on this 
solemn occasion that these tribes are admitted to eat 
with the others. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 123 

armies* against the common enemy. The 
first Guru-mat& was assembled by Guru 
Govind ; and the latest was called in 1805, 
when the British army pursued Holkar into 
the Penjab. 

The principal chiefs of the Sikhs are all 
descended from Hindu tribes. There is, 
indeed, no instance of a Singh of a Mu- 
hammedan family attaining high power-f-: 
a circumstance to be accounted for from 
the hatred still cherished, by the followers 
of Guru Govind, against the descendants of 

* The army is called, when thus assembled, the 
Dal Khalsa, or the army of the state. 

f The Muhammedans who have become Sikhs, 
and their descendants, are, in the Penjabi jargon, 
termed Mezhebi Singh, or Singhs of the faith; and 
they are subdivided into the four classes which are 
vulgarly, but erroneously, supposed to distinguish the 
followers of Muhammed, Sayyad Singh, Sheikh Singh, 
Moghul Singh, and Patan Singh; by which designa- 
tions the names of the particular race or country of 
the Muhammedans have been affixed, by Hindus, as 
distinctions of cast. 



124 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

his persecutors : and that this rancorous 
spirit is undiminished, may be seen from 
their treatment of the wretched Muhamme- 
dans who yet remain in their territories. 
These, though very numerous, appear to be 
all poor, and to be an oppressed, despised 
race. They till the ground, and are em- 
ployed to carry burdens, and to do all kinds 
of hard labour : they are not allowed to eat 
beef, or to say their prayers aloud, and but 
seldom assemble in their mosques*; of 
which few, indeed, have escaped destruc- 
tion. The lower order of Sikhs are more 
happy : they are protected from the tyranny 
and violence of the chiefs, under whom 
they live, by the precepts of their common 
religion, and by the condition of their coun- 
try, which enables them to abandon, when- 

* The Muhammedan inhabitants of the Penjab used 
to flock to the British camp; where, they said, they 
enjoyed luxuries which no man could appreciate that 
had not suffered privation. They could pray aloud, 
and feast upon beef. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 125 

ever they choose, a leader whom they 
dislike; and the distance of a few miles 
generally places them under the protection 
of his rival and enemy. It is from this 
cause that the lowest Sikh horseman usually 
assumes a very independent style, and the 
highest chief treats his military followers 
with attention and conciliation. The civil 
officers, — to whom the chiefs intrust their 
accounts, and the management of their 
property and revenue concerns, as well as 
the conduct of their negotiations, — are, in 
general, Sikhs of the Khalasa cast ; who, 
being followers of Nanac, and not of Guru 
Govind, are not devoted to arms, but edu- 
cated for peaceful occupations, in which 
they often become very expert and in^ 
telligent. 

In the collection of the revenue in the 
Penjab it is stated to be a general rule, 
that the chiefs, to whom the territories 
belong, should receive one half of the pro- 



126 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

duce*, and the farmer the other : but the 
chief never levies the whole of his share : 
and in no country, perhaps, is the Rayat, 
or cultivator, treated with more indulgence. 
Commerce is not so much encouraged ; 
heavy duties are levied upon it by all petty 
rulers through whose districts it passes : 
and this, added to the distracted state in 
which the Penjab has been, from the internal 
disputes of its possessors, caused the rich 
produce of Casmir to be carried to India 
by the difficult and mountainous tract of 
Jammu, Nad6n, and Srinagar. The Sikh 
chiefs have, however, discovered the injury 
which their interests have suffered from this 
cause, and have endeavoured, and not with- 
out success, to restore confidence to the 
merchant ; and great part of the shawl trade 
now flows through the cities of Lahore, 
Amritsar, and Patiala, to Hindustan. 

* Grain pays in kind; sugar-cane, melon?, 8cc. pay 
in cash. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 127 

The administration of justice in the coun- 
tries under the Sikhs, is in a very rude and 
imperfect state ; for, though their scriptures 
inculcate general maxims of justice, they 
are not considered, as the Old Testament 
is by the Jews, or the Koran by the Mu- 
hammedans, as books of law : and, having 
no fixed code, they appear to have adopted 
that irregular practice, which is most con- 
genial to the temper of the people, and 
best suited to the unsteady and changing 
character of their rule of government. The 
following appears to be the general outline 
of their practice in the administration of 
justice. 

Trifling disputes about property are set- 
tled by the heads of the village, by arbitra- 
tion*, or by the chiefs. Either of these 

* This is called Penchayat, or a court of five ; the 
general number of arbitrators chosen to adjust dif- 
ferences and disputes. It is usual to assemble a Pan 
cbayat, or a court of arbitration, in every part of India, 
under a native government; and, as they are always 



12 8 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

modes, supposing the parties consent to 
refer to it, is final ; and they must agree to 
one or other. If a theft occurs, the pro- 
perty is recovered, and the party punished 
by the person from whom it was stolen, 
who is aided on such occasions by the inha- 
bitants of his village, or his chief. The 
punishment, however, is never capital*. 
Murder is generally revenged by the rela- 
tions of the deceased, who, in such cases, 
rigorously retaliate on the murderer, and 
often on all who endeavour to protect 
him. 

chosen from men of the best reputation in the place 
where they meet, this court has a high character for 
justice. 

* A Sikh priest, who has been several years in Cal- 
cutta, gave this outline of the administration of justice 
among his countrymen. He spoke of it with rapture ; 
and insisted, with true patriotic prejudice, on its great 
superiority over the vexatious system of the English 
government; which was, he said, tedious, vexatious, 
and expensive, and advantageous only to clever 
rogues. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 129 

The character of the Sikhs, or rather 
Singhs, which is the name by which the 
followers of Guru Govind, who are all 
devoted to arms, are distinguished, is very 
marked. They have, in general, the Hindu 
cast of countenance, somewhat altered by 
their long beards, and are to the full as 
active as the Mahratas ; and much more 
robust, from their living fuller, and enjoying 
a better and colder climate. Their courage 
is equal, at all times, to that of any natives 
of India; and when wrought upon by pre- 
judice or religion, is quite desperate. They 
are all horsemen, and have no infantry in 
their own country, except for the defence 
of their forts and villages, though they gene- 
rally serve as infantry in foreign armies. 
They are bold, and rather rough, in their 
address ; which appears more to a stranger 
from their invariably speaking in a loud tone* 

* Talking aloud is so habitual to a Sikh, that he 
bawls a secret in your ear. It has often occurred to 
me, that they have acquired it from living in a country 
K 



13 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS 

of voice : but this is quite a habit, and is 
alike used by them to express the senti- 
ments of regard and hatred. The Sikhs 
have been reputed deceitful and cruel ; but 
I know no grounds upon which they can 
be considered more so than the other tribes 
of India. They seemed to me, from all the 
intercourse I had with them, to be more 
open and sincere than the Mahratas, and 
less rude and savage than the Afghans. 
They have, indeed, become, from national 
success, too proud of their own strength, 
and too irritable in their tempers, to have 
patience for the wiles of the former ; and 
they retain, in spite of their change of man- 
ners and religion, too much of the original 

where internal disputes have so completely destroyed 
confidence, that they can only carry on conversation 
with each other at a distance : but it is fairer, perhaps, 
to impute this boisterous and rude habit to their living 
almost constantly in a camp, in which the voice cer- 
tainly loses that nice modulated tone which distin- 
guishes the more polished inhabitants of cities. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 131 

character of their Hindu ancestors, (for the 
great majority are of the Hindu race,) to 
have the constitutional ferocity of the latter. 
The Sikh soldier is, generally speaking, 
brave, active, and cheerful, without polish, 
but neither destitute of sincerity nor attach- 
ment ; and if he often appears wanting in 
humanity, it is not so much to be attributed 
to his national character, as to the habits of 
a life, which, from the condition of the 
society in which he is born, is generally 
passed in scenes of violence and rapine. 

The Sikh merchant, or cultivator of the 
soil, if he is a Singh, differs little in cha- 
racter from the soldier, except that his oc- 
cupation renders him less presuming and 
boisterous. He also wears arms, and is, 
from education, prompt to use them when- 
ever his individual interest, or that of the 
community in which he lives*, requires him 

* The old Sikh soldier generally returns to his native 
village, where his wealth, courage, or experience, 
always obtains him respect, and sometimes station and 



132 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

to do so. The general occupations of the 
Khalasa Sikhs has been before mentioned. 

consequence. The second march which the British 
army made into the country of the Sikhs, the head- 
quarters were near a small village, the chief or' which, 
who was upwards of a hundred years of age, had been 
a soldier, and retained all the look and manner of his 
former occupation. He came to me, and expressed 
his anxiety to see Lord Lake. I showed him the 
general, who was sitting alone, in his tent, writing. He 
3iniled, and said he knew better : " The hero who had 
" overthrown Sindia and Holkar, and had conquered 
" Hindustan, must be surrounded with attendants, and 
" have plenty of persons to write for him." I assured 
him that it was Lord Lake; and, on his lordship 
coming to breakfast, I introduced the old Singh, who 
seeing a number of officers collect round him, was at 
last satisfied of the truth of what I said ; and, pleased 
with the great kindness and condescension with which 
he was treated by one whom he justly thought so 
great a man, sat down on the carpet, became quite 
talkative, and related all he had seen, from the inva- 
sion of Nadir Shah to that moment. Lord Lake, 
pleased with the bold manliness of his address, and the 
independence of his sentiments, told him he would 
grant him any favour he wished. " I am glad of it," 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 133 

Their character differs widely from that of 
the Singhs. Full of intrigue, pliant, versatile, 
and insinuating, they have all the art of the 
lower classes of Hindus, who are usually 
employed in transacting business : from 
whom, indeed, as they have no distinction 
of dress, it is very difficult to distinguish 
them. 

The religious tribes of Acalis, Shahid, 
and Nirmala, have been noticed. Their 

said the old man ; " then march away with your army 
4< from my village, which will otherwise be destroyed." 
Lord Lake, struck with the noble spirit of the request, 
assured him he would march next morning, and that, 
in the mean-time, he should have guards, who would 
protect his village from injury. Satisfied with this 
assurance, the old Singh was retiring, apparently full 
of admiration and gratitude at Lord Lake's goodness, 
and of wonder at the scene he had witnessed, when, 
meeting two officers at the door of the tent, he put a 
hand upon the breast of each, exclaiming at the same 
time, " Brothers ! where zcere you born, and where are 
<( you at this moment?" and, without waiting for an 
answer, proceeded to his village. 



134 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

general character is formed from their habits 
of life. The Acahs are insolent, ignorant, 
and daring : presuming upon those rights 
which their numbers and fanatic courage 
have established, their deportment is hardly 
tolerant to the other Sikhs, and insufferable 
to strangers, for whom they entertain a 
contempt, which they take little pains to 
conceal. The Shahid and the Nirmala, 
particularly the latter, have more know- 
ledge, and more urbanity. They are almost 
all men of quiet, peaceable habits; and 
many of them are said to possess learning. 

There is another tribe among the Sikhs, 
called the Nanac Pautra, or descendants of 
Nanac, who have the character of being a 
mild, inoffensive race ; and, though they do 
not acknowledge the institutions of Guru. 
Govind, they are greatly revered by his 
followers, who hold it sacrilege to injure the 
race of their founder ; and, under the 
advantage which this general veneration af- 
fords them, the Nanac Pautra pursue their 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 135 

occupations ; which, if they are not mendi- 
cants, is generally that of travelling mer- 
chants. They do not carry arms ; and pro- 
fess, agreeably to the doctrine of Nanac, to 
be at peace* with all mankind. 

The Sikh converts, it has been before 
stated, continue, after they have quitted 
their original religion, all those civil usages 
and customs of the tribes to which they 
belonged, that they can practise, without 
infringing the tenets of Nanac, or the insti- 
tutions of Gurd Govind. They are most par- 
ticular with regard to their intermarriages ; 
and, on this point, Sikhs descended from 
Hindus almost invariably conform to Hindti. 
customs, every tribe intermarrying within 

* When Lord Lake entered the Penjab, in 1805, a 
general protection was requested, by several principal 
chiefs, for the Nanac Pautra, on the ground of the 
veneration in which they were held, which enabled 
them, it was stated, to travel all over the country with- 
out molestation, even when the most violent wars 
existed. It was, of course, granted. 



136 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

itself. The Hindu usage, regarding diet, is 
also held equally sacred ; no Sikh, descended 
from a Hind 6 family, ever violating it, ex- 
cept upon particular occasions, such as a 
Guru-mata, when they are obliged, by their 
tenets and institutions, to eat promiscuously. 
The strict observance of these usages has 
enabled many of the Sikhs, particularly of 
the Jat* and Gujarf* tribes, which include 
almost all those settled to the south of the 
Satlej, to preserve an intimate intercourse 
with their original tribes ; who, considering 
the Sikhs not as having lost cast, but as 
Hindus that have joined a political associa- 

* The Jats are Hindus of a low tribe, who, takinc 

7 ' o 

advantage of the decline of the Moghul empire, have, 
by their courage and enterprise, raised themselves into 
some consequence on the north-western parts of Hin- 
dustan, and many of the strongest forts of that part of 
India are still in their possession. 

f The Gujars, who are also Hindus, have raised 
themselves to power by means not dissimilar to those 
used by the Jats. Almost all the thieves in Hindustan 
are of this tribe. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 137 

tion, which obliges them to conform to 
general rules established for its preservation, 
neither refuse to intermarry* nor to eat with 
them. 

The higher cast of Hindus, such as Brah- 
mens and Cshatrijas, who have become 
Sikhs, continue to intermarry with converts 
of their own tribes, but not with Hindus of 
the cast they have abandoned, as they are 
polluted by eating animal food ; all kinds 
of which are lawful to Sikhs, except the 
cow, which it is held sacrilege to slay-f. 
Nanac, whose object was to conciliate the 
Muhammedans to his creed, prohibited 
hog's flesh also; but it was introduced by 
his successors, as much, perhaps, from a 
spirit of revenge against the Moslems, as 
from considerations of indulgence to the 

* A marriage took place very lately between the 
Sikh chief of Patiala, and that of the Jat Raja, of 
B'haratpur. 

f Their prejudice regarding the killing of cows is 
stronger, if possible, than that of the Hindus. 



138 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

numerous converts of the Jat and Gujar 
tribe, among whom wild hog is a favourite 
species of food. 

The Muhammedans, who become Sikhs, 
intermarry with each other, but are allowed 
to preserve none of their usages, being 
obliged to eat hog's flesh, and abstain from 
circumcision. 

The Sikhs are forbid the use of tobacco*, 
but allowed to indulge in spirituous -j* 
liquors, which they almost all drink to 
excess ; and it is rare to see a Singh soldier, 
after sunset, quite sober. Their drink is an 

* The Khalasa Sikhs, who follow Nanac, and reject 
Guru Govind's institutions, make use of it. 

f Spirituous liquors, they say, are allowed by that 
verse in the Adi-Grant'h, which states, " Eat, and give 
" unto others to eat. Drink, and give unto others to 
" drink. Be glad, and make others glad." There is 
also an authority, quoted by the Sikhs, from the Hindu 
Sastras, in favour of this drinking to excess. Durga, 
agreeably to the Sikh quotations, used to drink, because 
liquor inspires courage; and this goddess, they say, 
was drunk when she slew Mahishasur, 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 139 

ardent spirit*, made in the Penjab; but 
they have no objections to either the wine 
or spirits of Europe, when they can obtain 
them. 

The use of opium, to intoxicate, is very 
common with the Sikhs, as with most of the 
military tribes of India. They also take 
B'hang-f, another inebriating drug. 

The conduct of the Sikhs to their women 
differs in no material respect from that of 
the tribes of Hindus, or Muhammedans, 
from whom they are descended. Their 
moral character with regard to women, and 

# When Fateh Singh, of Aluwal, who was quite a 
young man, was with the British army, Lord Lake 
gratified him by a field review. He was upon an ele- 
phant, and I attended him upon another. A little 
before sunset he became low and uneasy. I observed 
it ; and B'hag Singh, an old chief, of frank, rough man- 
ners, at once said, " Fateh Singh wants his dram, but 
" is ashamed to drink before you." I requested lie 
would follow his custom, which he did, by drinking a 
large cup of spirits, 
f Cannabis sativa. 



140 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

indeed in most other points, may, from the 
freedom of their habits, generally be con- 
sidered as much more lax than that of their 
ancestors, who lived under the restraint of 
severe restrictions, and whose fear of ex- 
communication from their cast, at least 
obliged them to cover their sins with the 
veil of decency. This the emancipated 
Sikhs despise : and there is hardly an in- 
famy which this debauched and dissolute 
race are not accused (and I believe with 
justice) of committing in the most open 
and shameful manner. 

The Sikhs are almost all horsemen, and 
they take great delight in riding. Their 
horses were, a few years ago, famous ; and 
those bred in the Lak'hi Jungle, and other 
parts of their territory, were justly cele- 
brated for their strength, temper, and ac- 
tivity : but the internal distractions of these 
territories has been unfavourable to the 
encouragement of the breed, which has 
consequently declined ; and the Sikhs now 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 141 

are in no respect better mounted than 
the Mahratas. From a hundred of their 
cavalry it would be difficult to select ten 
horses that would be admitted as fit to 
mount native troopers in the English 
service. 

Their horsemen use swords and spears, 
and most of them now carry matchlocks, 
though some still use the bow and arrow ; a 
species of arms, for excellence in the use of 
which their forefathers were celebrated, and 
which their descendants appear to abandon 
with great reluctance. 

The education of the Sikhs renders them 
hardy, and capable of great fatigue; and 
the condition of the society in which they 
live, affords constant exercise to that restless 
spirit of activity and enterprise which their 
religion has generated. Such a race can- 
not be epicures : they appear, indeed, gene- 
rally to despise luxury of diet, and pride 
themselves in their coarse fare. Their dress 
is also plain, not unlike that of the Hindus, 



142 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

equally light and divested of ornament. 
Some of the chiefs wear gold bangles ; but 
this is rare ; and the general characteristic of 
their dress and mode of living, is simplicity. 

The principal leaders among the Sikhs 
affect to be familiar and easy of intercourse 
with their inferiors, and to despise the pomp 
and state of the Muhammedan chiefs : but 
their pride often counteracts this disposi- 
tion; and they appeared to me to have, 
in proportion to their rank and conse- 
quence, more state, and to maintain equal, 
if not more, reserve and dignity with their 
followers, than is usual with the Mahrata 
chiefs. 

It would be difficult, if not impracticable, 
to ascertain the amount of the population 
of the Sikh territories, or even to compute 
the number of the armies which they could 
bring into action. They boast that they 
can raise more than a hundred thousand 
horse: and, if it were possible to assemble 
every Sikh horseman, this statement might 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 143 

not be an exaggeration : but there is, per- 
haps, no chief among them, except Ranjit 
Singh, of Lahore, that could bring an effec- 
tive body of four thousand men into the 
field. The force of Ranjit Singh did not, 
in 1805, amount to eight thousand; and 
part of that was under chiefs who had been 
subdued from a state of independence, and 
whose turbulent minds ill brooked an usur- 
pation which they deemed subversive of the 
constitution of their commonwealth. His 
army is now more numerous than it was, 
but it is composed of materials which have 
no natural cohesion ; and the first serious 
check which it meets, will probably cause 
its dissolution. 



144 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 



SECTION III. 

There is no branch of this sketch which 
is more curious and important, or that 
offers more difficulties to the inquirer, than 
the religion of the Sikhs. We meet with a 
creed of pure deism, grounded on the most 
sublime general truths, blended with the 
belief of all the absurdities of the Hindu 
mythology, and the fables of Muhamme- 
danism; for Nanac professed a desire to 
reform, not to destroy, the religion of the 
tribe in which he was born ; and, actuated 
by the great and benevolent design of 
reconciling the jarring faiths of Brahmd and 
Muhammed, he endeavoured to conciliate 
both Hindus and Moslems to his doctrine, 
by persuading them to reject those parts of 
their respective beliefs and usages, which, 
he contended, were unworthy of that God 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 145 

whom they both' adored. He called upon 
the Hindus to abandon the worship of idols, 
and to return to that pure devotion of the 
Deity, in which their religion originated. 
He called upon the Muhammedans to ab- 
stain from practices, like the slaughter of 
cows, that were offensive to the religion of 
the Hindus, and to cease from the perse- 
cution of that race. He adopted, in order 
to conciliate them, many of the maxims 
which he had learnt from mendicants, who 
professed the principles of the Sufi sect; 
and he constantly referred to the admired 
writings of the celebrated Muhammedan 
Kabir*, who was a professed Stifi, and who 

* This celebrated Sufi, or philosophical deist, lived 
in the time of the Ernperor Shir Shah. He was, by 
trade, a weaver; but has written several admired 
works. They are all composed in a strain of universal 
philanthropy and benevolence ; and, above all, he in- 
culcated religious toleration, particularly between the 
Muhammedans and Hindus, by both of whom his 
memory is held in the highest esteem and veneration. 
L 



146 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

inculcated the doctrine of the equality of 
the relation of all created beings to their 
Creator. Nanac endeavoured, with all the 
power of his own genius, aided by such 
authorities, to impress both Hindus and 
Muhammedans with a love of toleration 
and an abhorrence of war ; and his life was 
as peaceable as his doctrine. He appears, 
indeed, to have adopted, from the hour in 
which he abandoned his worldly occu- 
pations to that of his death, the habits 
practised by that crowd of holy mendicants, 
Sanyasis and Fakirs, with whom India 
swarms. He conformed to their customs ; 
and his extraordinary austerities* are a 
constant theme of praise with his followers. 
His works are all in praise of God ; but he 

* Nanac was celebrated for the manner in which he 
performed Tapasa, or austere devotion, which requires 
the mind to be so totally absorbed in the Divinity, as 
to be abstracted from every worldly thought, and this 
for as long a period as human strength is capable of 
sustaining. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 147 

treats the polytheism of the Hindus with 
respect, and even veneration. He never 
shows a disposition to destroy the fabric, 
but only wishes to divest it of its useless 
tinsel and false ornaments, and to establish 
its complete dependence upon the great 
Creator of the universe. He speaks every 
where of Muhammed, and his successors, 
with moderation ; but animadverts boldly 
on what he conceives to be their errors; 
and, above all, on their endeavours to pro- 
pagate their faith by the sword. 

As Nanac made no material invasion of 
either the civil or religious usages of the 
Hindus, and as his only desire was to re- 
store a nation who had degenerated from 
their original pure worship* into idolatry, 
he may be considered more in the light of a 
reformer than of a subverter of the Hindu 



* The most ancient Hindus do not appear to have 
paid adoration to idols; but, though they adored God, 
they worshipped the sun and elements. 



!48 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

religion ; and those Sikhs who adhere to his 
tenets, without admitting those of Guru 
Govind, are hardly to be distinguished from 
the great mass of Hindu population ; among 
whom there are many sects who differ, 
much more than that of Nanac, from the 
general and orthodox worship at present 
established in India. 

The first successors of Nanac appear to 
have taught exactly the same doctrine as 
their leader; and though Har Govind 
armed all his followers, it was on a prin- 
ciple of self-defence, in which he was fully 
justified, even by the usage of the Hindus. 
It was reserved for Guru Govind to give a 
new character to the religion of his fol- 
lowers ; not by making any material altera- 
tion in the tenets of Nanac, but by esta- 
blishing institutions and usages, which not 
only separated them from other Hindus, 
but which, by the complete abolition of all 
distinction of casts, destroyed, at one blow, 
a system of civil polity, that, from being 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 149 

interwoven with the religion of a weak and 
bigoted race, fixed the rule of its priests 
upon a basis that had withstood the shock 
of ages. Though the code of the Hindus 
was calculated to preserve a vast commu- 
nity in tranquillity and obedience to its 
rulers, it had the natural effect of making 
the country, in which it was established, an 
easy conquest to every powerful foreign 
invader; and it appears to have been the 
contemplation of this effect that made Guru 
Govind resolve on the abolition of cast, as 
a necessary and indispensable prelude to 
any attempt to arm the original native 
population of India against their foreign 
tyrants. He called upon all Hindus to 
break those chains in which prejudice and 
bigotry had bound them, and to devote 
themselves to arms, as the only means by 
which they could free themselves from the 
oppressive government of the Muhamme- 
dans; against whom, a sense of his own 
wrongs, and those of his tribe, led him to 



150 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

preach eternal warfare. His religious doc- 
trine was meant to be popular, and it 
promised equality. The invidious appel- 
lations of Brahmen, Cshatriya, Vaisya, and 
Sudra, were abolished. The pride of descent 
might remain, and keep up some distinc- 
tions ; but, in the religious code of Govind, 
every Khalsa Singh (for such he termed his 
followers) was equal, and had a like title to 
the good things of this world, and to the 
blessings of a future life. 

Though Guru Govind mixes, even more 
than Nanac, the mythology of the Hindus 
with his own tenets; though his desire 
to conciliate them, in opposition to the 
Muhammedans, against whom he always 
breathed war and destruction, led him to 
worship at Hindu sacred shrines ; and 
though the peculiar customs and dress 
among his followers, are stated to have been 
adopted from veneration to the Hindu god- 
dess of courage, Durga Bhavani ; yet it is 
impossible to reconcile the religion and 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 151 

usages, which G6vind has established, with 
the belief of the Hindus. It does not, like 
that of Nanac, question some favourite 
dogmas of the disciples of Brahma-, and 
attack that worship of idols, which few of 
these defend, except upon the ground of 
these figures, before which they bend, being 
symbolical representations of the attributes 
of an all-powerful Divinity ; but it proceeds 
at once to subvert the foundation of the 
whole system. Wherever the religion of 
Guru Govind prevails, the institutions of 
Brahma must fall. The admission of pro- 
selytes, the abolition of the distinctions of 
cast, the eating of all kinds of flesh, except 
that of cows, the form of religious worship, 
and the general devotion of all Singhs to 
arms, are ordinances altogether irreconcil- 
able with Hindu mythology, and have ren- 
dered the religion of the Sikhs as obnoxious 
to the Brahmens, and higher tribes of the 
Hindus, as it is popular with the lower 
orders of that numerous class of mankind. 



152 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

After this rapid sketch of the general 
character of the religion of the Sikhs, I 
shall take a more detailed view of its origin, 
progress, tenets, and forms. 

A Sikh author*, whom I have followed 
in several parts of this sketch, is very par- 
ticular in stating the causes of the origin of 
the religion of Nanac : he describes the 
different Yugas, or ages of the world, stated 
in the Hindu mythology. The Cali Yug, 
which is the present, is that in which it was 
written that the human race would become 
completely depraved : " Discord," says the 
author, speaking of the Cali Yug, " will 
" rise in the world, sin prevail, and the 
" universe become wicked ; cast will con- 
" tend with cast ; and, like bamboos in 
" friction, consume each other to embers. 
" The Vedas, or scriptures," he adds, " will 
" be held in disrepute, for they shall not 
" be understood, and the darkness of igno- 

* B'hai Gdr6 Das B'hale. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 153 

" ranee will prevail every where f Such is 
this author's record of a divine prophecy 
regarding this degenerate age. He proceeds 
to state what has ensued : " Every one fol- 
" lowed his own path, and sects were 
" separated ; some worshipped Chandra 
" (the moon) ; some Surya (the sun) ; some 
" prayed to the earth, to the sky, and the 
" air, and the water, and the fire, while 
" others worshipped D'herma Raja (the 
" judge of the dead) ; and in the fallacy of 
" the sects nothing was to he found but 
" error. In short, pride prevailed in the 
" world, and the four casts* established a 
" system of ascetic devotion. From these, 
" the ten sects of Sanyasis, and the twelve 
" sects of Yogis, originated. Thejangam, 
" the Srivira, and the Deva Digambar, 
" entered into mutual contests. The Brah- 
" mens divided into different classes ; and 

# Brahmen, Cshatriya, Vaisya, and Sudra. 



154 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

" the Sastras, Vedas, and Puranas*, con- 
" tradicted each other. The six Dersans 
" (philosophical sects) exhibited enmity, 
" and the thirty-six Pashands (heterodox 
" sects) arose, with hundreds of thousands 
" of chimerical and magical (t antra mantra) 
" sects : and thus, from one form, many 
" good and many evil forms originated, 
" and error prevailed in the Cali Yug, 
" or age of general depravity." 

The Sikh author pursues this account 
of the errors into which the Hindus fell, 
with a curious passage regarding the 
origin and progress of the Muhammedan 
religion . 

" The world," he writes, " went on with 
" these numerous divisions, when Muham- 
" med Yara-f appeared, who gave origin 

* Different sacred books of the Hindus. 

t Yar signifies friend; and one of the prophet's 
titles, among his followers, is Yar-i-Khuda, or the friend 
of God. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 155 

" to the seventy-two sects*, and widely 
" disseminated discord and war. He esta- 
" blished the Rozeh o Aid (fast and festi- 
" vals), and the Namaz (prayer), and 
" made his practice of devotional acts pre- 
" valent in the world, with a multitude of 
" distinctions, of Pir (saint), Paighamber 
" (prophet), Ulema (the order of priest- 
" hood), and Kitab (the Koran). He de- 
" molished the temples, and on their ruins 
" built the mosques, slaughtering cows 
" and helpless persons, and spreading trans- 
" gression far and wide, holding in hostility 
" Cafirs (infidels), Mulhids (idolaters), Ir- 
" menis (Armenians), Rumis (the Turks), 
" and Zingis (Ethiopians). Thus vice 
" greatly diffused itself in the universe." 

" Then," this author adds, " there were 
" two races in the world ; the one Hindu, 
" the other Muhammedan ; and both were 



* The Muhammedan religion is said to be divided 
into seventy-two sects. 



15 6 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS, 

" alike excited by pride, enmity, and ava- 
" rice, to viotence. The Hindus set their 
" heart on Ganga and Benares ; the Mu- 
" hammedans on Mecca and the Caaba: 
" the Hindus clung to their mark on the 
" forehead and brahminical string; the 
" Moslemans to their circumcision : the 
" one cried Ram (the name of an Avatar), 
" the other Rahim (the merciful) ; one 
" name, but two ways of pronouncing it ; 
" forgetting equally the Vedas and the 
" Koran : and through the deceptions of 
" lust, avarice, the world, and Satan, they 
" swerved equally from the true path : 
" while Brahmens and Moulavis destroyed 
" each other by their quarrels, and the 
" vicissitudes of life and death hung always 
" suspended over their heads. 

" When the world was in this distracted 
" state, and vice prevailed," says this writer, 
" the complaint of virtue, whose dominion 
" was extinct, reached the throne of the 
" Almighty, who created Niinac, to en- 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 157 

w lighten and improve a degenerate and 
" corrupt age : and that holy man made 
" God the Supreme known to all, giving 
" the nectareous water that washed his feet 
" to his disciples to drink. He restored to 
" Virtue her strength, blended the four 
" casts * into one, established one mode of 
" salutation, changed the childish play of 
" bending the head at the feet of idols, 
" taught the worship of the true God, and 
" reformed a depraved world/' 

Nanac appears, by the account of this 
author, to have established his fame for 
sanctity by the usual modes of religious 
mendicants. He performed severe Tapasaf*, 
living upon sand and swallow- wort, and 
sleeping on sharp pebbles ; and, after attain- 

* There is no ground to conclude that casts were 
altogether abolished by Nanac; though his doctrines 
and writings had a tendency to equalize the Hindus, 
and unite all in the worship of one God. 

"t* A kind of ascetic devotion, which has been before 
explained. 



158 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

ing fame by this kind of penance, he 
commenced his travels, with the view of 
spreading his doctrine over the earth. 

After Nanac had completed his terres- 
trial travels, he is supposed to have as- 
cended to Sumeru, where he saw the 
Sidd'his*, all seated in a circle. These, 
from a knowledge of that eminence for 
which he was predestined, wished to make 
him assume the characteristic devotion of 
their sect, to which they thought he would 
be an ornament. While means were used 
to effect this purpose, a divine voice was 
heard to exclaim : " Nanac shall form his 
«« own sect, distinct from all the Yatis-f- 
" and Sidd'his; and his name shall be 
" joyful to the Cali Yug." After this, 

* The Sidd'his (saints) are the attendants of the 
gods. The name is most generally applied to those 
who wait on Gauesa. 

+ The name Yati is most usually applied to the 
priests of the Jainas; but it is also applicable to San- 
yasis, and other penitents. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 159 

Nanac preached the adoration of the true 
God to the Hindus; and then went to 
instruct the Muhammedans, in their sacred 
temples at Mecca. When at that place, 
the holy men are said to have gathered 
round him, and demanded, Whether their 
faith, or that of the Hindus, was the best ? 
" Without the practice of true piety, both/' 
said Nanac, " are erroneous, and neither 
" Hindus nor Moslems will be acceptable 
" before the throne of God ; for the faded 
" tinge of scarlet, that has been soiled by 
" water, will never return. You both de- 
" ceive yourselves, pronouncing aloud Ram 
" and Rahim, and the way of Satan pre- 
" vails in the universe." 

The courageous independence with which 
Nanac announced his religion to the Mu- 
hammedans, is a favourite topic with his 
biographers. He was one day abused, and 
even struck, as one of these relates, by a 
Moullah, for lying on the ground with his 
feet in the direction of the sacred temple of 



160 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

Mecca. " How darest thou, infidel!" said 
the offended Muhammedan priest, " turn 
" thy feet towards the house of God V s — 
" Turn them, if you can," said the pious 
but indignant Nanac, " in a direction where 
" the house of God is not." 

Nanac did not deny the mission of Mu- 
hammed. " That prophet was sent," he 
said, " by God, to this world, to do good, 
" and to disseminate the knowledge of one 
" God through means of the K6ran ; but 
" he, acting on the principle of free-will, 
" which all human beings exercise, intro- 
" duced oppression, and cruelty, and the 
" slaughter of cows*, for which he died. — 
" lam now sent," he added, " from heaven, 
" to publish unto mankind a book, which 
" shall reduce all the names given unto 
" God to one name, which is God ; and he 
" who calls him by any other, shall fall into 

* Nanac appears on this, and every other occasion, 
to have preserved his attachment to this favourite 
dogma of the Hindus. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. i6'l 

" the path of the devil, and have his feet 
** bound in the chains of wretchedness. 
** You have/' said he to the Muhamme- 
dans, " despoiled the temples, and burnt 
■" the sacred Vedas, of the Hindus; and 
" you have dressed yourselves in dresses of 
" blue, and you delight to have your 
u praises sung from house to house : but I, 
" who have seen all the world, tell you, 
" that the Hindus equally hate you and 
" your mosques. I am sent to reconcile 
" your jarring faiths, and I implore you to 
u read their scriptures, as well as your own : 
" but reading is useless without obedience 
" to the doctrine taught; for God has 
" said, no man shall be saved except he 
" has performed good works. The Al- 
" mighty will not ask to what tribe or 
" persuasion he belongs. He will only 
" ask, What has he done ? Therefore those 
" violent and continued disputes, which 
" subsist between the Hindus and Mosle- 
" mans, are as impious as they are unjust." 

M 



162 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

Such were the doctrines, according to 
his disciples, which Nanac taught to both 
Hindus and Muhammedans. He professed 
veneration and respect, but refused adora- 
tion to the founders of both their religions ; 
for which, as for those of all other tribes, he 
had great tolerance. " A hundred thousand 
" of Muhammeds," said Nanac, " a million 
u of Brahmas, Vishnus, and a hundred 
" thousand Ramas, stand at the gate of the 
" Most High. These all perish ; God alone 
" is immortal. Yet men, who unite in 
" the praise of God, are not ashamed 
" of living in contention with each other ; 
" which proves that the evil spirit has 
*< subdued all. He alone is a true Hindu 
" whose heart is just: and he only is 
" a good Muhammedan whose life is 
" pure." 

Nanac is stated, by the Sikh author from 
whom the above account of his religion is 
taken, to have had an interview with the 
supreme God, which he thus describes : 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 163 

" One day Nanac heard a voice from 
" above exclaim, N&nac, approach!" He 
replied, " Oh God ! what power have I to 
" stand in thy presence?" The voice said, 
" Close thine eyes." Nanac shut his eyes, 
and advanced : he was told to look up : he 
did so, and heard the word Wa ! or well 
done, pronounced five times ; and then Wa ! 
Guruji, or well done teacher. After this 
God said, " Nanac! I have sent thee into 
" the world, in the Cali Yug (or depraved 
" age) ; go and bear my name/' Nanac 
said, " Oh God ! how can I bear the mighty 
" burthen? If my age was extended to 
" tens of millions of years, if I drank of 
" immortality, aud my eyes were formed of 
" the sun and moon, and were never closed, 
" still, oh God! I could not presume to 
*' take charge of thy wondrous name." — 
" I will be thy Guru (teacher)," said God, 
" and thou shalt be a Guru to all mankind, 
M and thy sect shall be great in the world ; 
" their word is Puri Puri. The word 



164 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

" of the Bairasi is Ram ! Ram ! that of the 

4C Sanyasi, Om ! Nama ! Narayen ! and the 

" word of the Yogis, Ades ! Ades ! and the 

" salutation of the Muhainmedans is Salam 

" Alikam ; and that of the Hindus, Ram ! 

" Ram ! but the word of thy sect shall be 

" Guru, and I will forgive the crimes of 

" thy disciples. The place of worship of 

" the Bairagis is called Ramsala; that of 

" the Yogis, Asan ; that of the Sanyasis, 

" Mat ; that of thy tribe shall be Dherma 

" Sala. Thou must teach unto thy fol- 

" lowers three lessons : the first, to worship 

" my name ; the second, charity ; the third, 

" ablution. They must not abandon the 

" world, and they must do ill to no being; 

" for into every being have I infused breath ; 

" and whatever I am, thou art, for betwixt 

" us there is no difference. It is a blessing 

" that thou art sent into the Cali Yug." 
After this, " Wa Guru I or zvell done, 

" teacher ! was pronounced from the mouth 

u of the most high Guru or teacher (God), 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 165 

" and Nanac came to give light and free- 
" dom to the universe." 

The above will give a sufficient view of 
the ideas which the Sikhs entertain regard- 
ing the divine origin of their faith ; which, 
as first taught by Nanac, might justly be 
deemed the religion of peace. 

" Put on armour," says Nanac, " that 
" will harm no one ; let thy coat of mail 
" be that of understanding, and convert 
" thy enemies to friends. Fight with va- 
" lour, but with no weapon except the 
" word of God." All the principles which 
Nanac inculcated, were those of pure deism ; 
but moderated, in order to meet the deep- 
rooted usages of that portion of mankind 
which he wished to reclaim from error. 
Thou<m he condemned the lives and habits 
of the Muhammedans, he approved of the 
Koran-, He admitted the truth of the 

* This fact is admitted by Sikh authors. It is, how- 
ever, probable, that Nanac was but imperfectly ac- 
quainted with the doctrines of that volume. 



166 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

ancient Vedas, but contended that the 
Hindu religion had been corrupted, by the 
introduction of a plurality of gods, with 
the worship of images ; which led their 
minds astray from that great and eternal 
Being, to whom adoration should alone be 
paid. He, however, followed the forms of 
the Hindus, and adopted most of their doc- 
trines which did not interfere with his great 
and leading tenet. He admitted the claim 
to veneration, of the numerous catalogue of 
Hindu Devas, and Devatas, or inferior 
deities ; but he refused them adoration. He 
held it impious to slaughter the cow ; and he 
directed his votaries, as has been seen, to 
consider ablution as one of their primary 
religious duties. 

Nanac, according to Penjabi authors, 
admitted the Hindu doctrine of metempsy- 
chosis. He believed, that really good men 
would enjoy Paradise ; that those, who had 
no claim to the name of good, but yet were 
not bad, would undergo another probation, 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 167 

by revisiting the world in the human form : 
and that the bad would animate the bodies 
of animals, particularly dogs and cats : but 
it appears, from the same authorities, that 
Nanac was acquainted with the Muham- 
medan doctrine regarding the fall of man, 
and a future state ; and that he represented 
it to his followers as a system, in which 
God, by showing a heaven and a hell, had, in 
his great goodness, held out future rewards 
and punishments to man, whose will he 
had left free, to incite him to good actions, 
and deter him from bad. The principle of 
reward and punishment is so nearly the same 
in the Hindu and in the Muhammedan reli- 
gion, that it was not difficult for Nanac to 
reconcile his followers upon this point : but 
in this, as in all others, he seems to have 
bent to the doctrine of Brahma. In all his 
writings, however, he borrowed indifferently 
from the Koran and the Hindu Sastras ; 
and his example was followed by his suc- 
cessors ; and quotations from the scriptures 



168 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

of the Hindus, and from the book of Mu- 
hammed, are indiscriminately introduced 
into all their sacred writings, to elucidate 
those points on which it was their object to 
reconcile these jarring religions. 

With the exact mode in which Nanac 
instructed his followers to address their 
prayers to that supreme Being whom he 
taught them to adore, I am not acquainted. 
Their D'herma Sala, or temples of worship, 
are, in general, plain buildings. Images 
are, of course, banished. Their prescribed 
forms of prayer are, I believe, few and 
simple. Part of the writings of Nanac, 
which have since been incorporated with 
those of his successors, in the Adi Grant'h, 
are read, or rather recited, upon every 
solemn occasion. These are all in praise of 
the Deity, of religion, and of virtue ; and 
against impiety and immorality. The Adi 
Grant'h, the whole of the first part of which 
is ascribed to Nanac, is written, like the 
rest of the books of the Sikhs, in the 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 169 

Gurumuk'h* character. I can only judge 
very imperfectly of the value of this work : 
but some extracts, translated from it, ap- 
pear worthy of that admiration which is 
bestowed upon it by the Sikhs. 

The Adi-Grant'h is in verse; and many 
of the chapters, written by Nanac, are 
termed Pidi, which means, literally, a ladder 
or flight of steps ; and, metaphorically, that 
by which a man ascends. 

In the following fragment, literally trans^ 
lated from the Sodar rag asa mahilla pehla 
of Nanac, he displays the supremacy of the 
true God, and the inferiority of the De- 
vatas, and other created beings, to the uni- 
versal Creator; however they may have 
been elevated into deities by ignorance or 
superstition. 

Thy portals, how wonderful they are, how wonderful 
thy palace, where thou sittest and governest all ! 

Numberless and infinite are the sounds which pro- 
claim thy praises. 



* A modified species of the Nagari character. 



17 q SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

How numerous are thy Peris, skilful in music and 
song ! 

Pavan (air), water, and Vasan tar (fire), celebrate thee ; 
D'herma Raja (the Hindu Rhadamanthus) cele- 
brates thy praises, at thy gates. 

Chitragupta (Secretary to D'herma Raja) celebrates 
thy praises ; who, skilful in writing, writes and 
administers final justice. 

Iswara, Brahma, and Devi, celebrate thy praises ; 
they declare in fit terms thy majesty, at thy 
gates. 

Indra celebrates thy praises, sitting on the Indraic 
throne amid the Devatas. 

The just celebrate thy praises in profound medita- 
tion, the pious declare thy glory. 

The Yaris and the Satis joyfully celebrate thy might. 

The Pandits, skilled in reading, and the Rishiswaras, 
who, age by age, read the Vedas, recite thy 
praises. 

The Mohinis (celestial courtezans), heart alluring, 
inhabiting Swarga, Mritya, and Patala, cele- 
brate thy praises. 

The Ratnas (gems), with the thirty-eight Tirt'has 
(sacred springs), celebrate thy praises. 

Heroes of great might celebrate thy name; beings 
of the four kinds of production celebrate thy 
praises. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 171 

The continents, and regions of the world, celebrate 

thy praises ; the universal Brahmanda (the 

mundane egg), which thou hast established firm. 
All who know thee praise thee, all who are desirous 

of thy worship. 
How numerous they are who praise thee ! they exceed 

my comprehension: how, then, shall Nanac 

describe them ? 
He, even he, is the Lord of truth, true, and truly just. 
He is, he was, he passes, he passes not, the preserver 

of all that is preserved. 
Of numerous hues, sorts and kinds, he is the original 

author of Maya (deception). 
Having formed the creation, he surveys his own 

Avork, the display of his own greatness. 
What pleases him he does, and no order of any 

other being can reach him. 
He is the Padshah and the Fudsaheb of Shahs; 

Nanac resides in his favour. 

These few verses are, perhaps, sufficient 
to show, that it was on a principle of pure 
deism that Nanac entirely grounded his 
religion. It was not possible, however, 
that the minds of any large portion of man- 
kind could remain long fixed in a belief 



172 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

which presented them only with general 
truths, and those of a nature too vast for 
their contemplation or comprehension. The 
followers of Nanac, since his death, have 
paid an adoration to his name, which is at 
variance with the lessons which he taught ; 
they have clothed him in all the attributes 
of a saint: they consider him as the se- 
lected instrument of God to make known 
the true faith to fallen man ; and, as such, 
they give him divine honours; not only 
performing pilgrimage to his tomb, but 
addressing him, in their prayers, as their 
saviour and mediator. 

The religious tenets and usages of the 
Sikhs continued, as they had been esta- 
blished by Nanac*, till the time of Guru 



* Certainly no material alteration was made, cither 
in the belief or forms of the Sikhs, by any of his suc- 
cessors before Guru Govind. liar G6vind, who 
armed his followers to repel aggression, would only 
appear to have made a temporary effort to oppose his 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 173 

Govind; who, though he did not alter the 
fundamental principles of the established 
faith, made so complete a change in the 
sacred usages and civil habits of his fol- 
lowers, that he gave them an entirely new 
character : and though the Sikhs retain all 
their veneration for Nanac, they deem Guru 
Govind to have been equally exalted, by 
the immediate favour and protection of the 
Divinity ; and the Dasama Padshah ka 
Gran th, or book of the tenth king, which 
was written by Guru Govind, is considered, 
in every respect, as holy as the Adi Grant'h 
of Nanac, and his immediate successors. 
I cannot better explain the pretensions 
which Guru Govind has made to the rank 
of a prophet, than by exhibiting his own 
account of his mission in a literal version 
from his Vichitra Natac. 



enemies, without an endeavour to effect any serious 
change in the religious belief or customs of the sect to 
which he belonged. 



174 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

" I now declare my own history, and 
" the multifarious austerities which I have 
" performed. 

" Where the seven peaks rise beautiful 
" on the mountain Hemacuta, and the 
" place takes the name of Sapta Sringa, 
" greater penance have I performed than 
" was ever endured by Pandu Raja, medi- 
" tating constantly on Maha Cal and Calica, 
" till diversity was changed into one form. 
" My father and mother meditated on the 
" Divinity, and performed the Yoga, till 
" Guru Deva approved of their devotions. 
" Then the Supreme issued his order, and 
" I was born, in the Call Yug, though my 
" inclination was not to come into the 
" world, my mind being fixed on the foot 
" of the Supreme. When the supreme 
" Being made known his will, I was sent 
" into the world. The eternal Being thus 
" addressed this feeble insect : 

" — I have manifested thee as my own 
M son, and appointed thee to establish a 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 175 

" perfect Pant'h (sect). Go into the world, 
" establish virtue and expel vice/' — 

" — I stand with joined hands, bending 
" my head at thy word : the Pant'h shall 
" prevail in the world, when thou lendest 
" thine aid. — Then was I sent into the 
" world : thus I received mortal birth. As 
" the Supreme spoke to me, so do I speak, 
" and to none do I bear enmity.. Whoever 
" shall call me Parameswara, he shall sink 
" into the pit of hell : know, that I am only 
" the servant of the Supreme, and con- 
" cerning this entertain no doubt. As God 
" spoke, I announce unto the world, and 
" remain not silent in the world of men. 

" As God spoke, so do I declare, and I 
" regard no person's word. I wear my 
" dress in nobody's fashion, but follow that 
" appointed by the Supreme. I perform 
" no worship to stones, nor imitate the 
" ceremonies of any one. I pronounce 
" the infinite name, and have attained to 
" the supreme Being. I wear no bristling 



176 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

H locks on my head, nor adorn myself with 

" ear-rings. I receive no person's words in 

" my ears ; but as the Lord speaks, I act. 

" I meditate on the sole name, and attain 

" my object. To no other do I perform 

" the Jap, in no other do I confide : I 

" meditate on the infinite name, and attain 

" the supreme light. On no other do I 

" meditate; the name of no other do I 

" pronounce. 

" For this sole reason, to establish virtue, 

" was I sent into the world by Gur(i Deva. 

" ' Every where/ said he, ' establish virtue, 

" and exterminate the wicked and vitious/ 

" For this purpose have I received mortal 

" birth ; and this let all the virtuous under- 

" stand. To establish virtue, to exalt piety, 

" and to extirpate the vitious utterly. 

" Every former Avatar established his own 

" Jap ; but no one punished the irreligious, 

" no one established both the principles 

" and practice of virtue, (Dherm Carm). 

" Every holy man (Gh6us), and prophet 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 177 

" (Ambia), attempted only to establish his 
" own reputation in the world ; but no one 
" comprehended the supreme Being, or 
" understood the true principles or practice 
" of virtue. The doctrine of no other is of 
" any avail ; this doctrine fix in your minds. 
" There is no benefit in any other doctrine, 
" this fix in your minds. 

" Whoever reads the Koran, whoever 
". reads the Puran, neither of them shall 
" escape death, and nothing but virtue 
" shall avail at last. Millions of men may 
" read the Koran, they may read innu- 
" merable Purans; but it shall be of no 
" avail in the life to come, and the power 
" of destiny shall prevail over them." 

Guru Govind, after this account of the 
origin of his mission, gives a short account 
of his birth and succession to the spiritual 
duties at his father's death. 

" At the command of God I received 
f f mortal birth, and came into the world. 



178 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

" This I now declare briefly; attend to 

" what I speak. 

" My father journeyed towards the East, 

" performing ablution in all the sacred 

" springs. When he arrived at Triveni, 

" he spent a day in acts of devotion and 

" charity. On that occasion was I mani- 

" fested. In the town of Patna I received 

" a body. Then the Madra Des received 

" me, and nurses nursed me tenderly, and 

" tended me with great care, instructing 

" me attentively every day. When I 

" reached the age of Dherm and Carm 

" (principles and practice), my father de- 

" parted to the Deva Loca. When I was 

" invested with the dignity of Raja, I 

" established virtue to the utmost of my 

" power. I addicted myself to every spe- 

" cies of hunting in the forests, and daily 

" killed the bear and the stag. When I 

" had become acquainted with that coun- 

" try, I proceeded to the city of Pavata, 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 179 

" where I amused myself on the banks of 
" the Calindri, and viewed every kind of 
" spectacle. There I slew a great number 
" of tigers ; and, in various modes, hunted 
" the bear." 

The above passages will convey an idea 
of that impression which Guru G6vind 
gave his followers of his divine mission. I 
shall shortly enumerate those alterations he 
made in the usages of the Sikhs, whom 
it was his object to render, through the 
means of religious enthusiasm, a warlike 
race. 

Though Guru Govind was brought up in 
the religion of Nanac, he appears, from 
having been educated among the Hindu 
priests of Mathura, to have been deeply 
tainted with their superstitious belief; and 
he was, perhaps, induced by considerations 
of policy, to lean still more strongly to their 
prejudices, in order to induce them to be- 
come converts to that religious military 
community, by means of which it was 



180 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

his object to destroy the Muhammedan 
power. 

The principal of the religious institutions 
of Guru Govind, is that of the Pahal, — the 
ceremony by which a convert is initiated 
into the tribe of Sikhs ; or, more properly 
speaking, that of Singhs. The meaning of 
this institution is to make the convert a 
member of the Khalsa, or Sikh common- 
wealth, which he can only become by 
assenting to certain observances ; the de- 
voting himself to arms for the defence of 
the commonwealth, and the destruction of 
its enemies ; the wearing his hair, and put- 
ting on a blue dress*. 

* It] has been before stated, that all the fol- 
lowers of G6vind do not now wear the blue dress, 
but they all wear their hair; and their jealous re- 
gard of it is not to be described. Three inferior 
agents of Sikh chiefs were one day in ray tent; 
one of them was a Khalsa Singh, and the two 
others of the Khalasa tribe of Sikhs. I was laugh- 
ing and joking with the Khalsa Singh, who said 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 181 

The mode in which Guru Govind first 
initiated his converts, is described by a Sikh 
writer; and, as I believe it is nearly the 
same as that now observed, I shall shortly 
state it as he has described it. Guru 
Govind, he says, after his arrival at Mak'- 



he had been ordered to attend me to Calcutta. Among 
other subjects of our mirth, I rallied him on trusting 
himself so much in my power. " Why, what is the 
" worst," said he, " that you can do to me, when 
" I am at such a distance from home ?" I passed my 
hand across my chin, imitating the act of shaving. 
The man's face was in an instant distorted with rage, 
and his sword half drawn. " You are ignorant," said 
he to me, " of the offence you have given. I cannot 
" strike you, who are above me, and the friend of my 
" master and the state. But no power," he added, 
" shall save these fellows," alluding to the two Kha- 
lasa Sikhs, " from my revenge, for having dared to 
« smile at your action." It was with the greatest 
difficulty, and only by the good offices of some Sikh 
chiefs, that I was able to pacify the wounded honour 
of this Singh. 



182 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

haval, initiated five converts, and gave 
them instructions how to initiate others. 
The mode is as follows. The convert is 
told that he must allow his hair to grow. 
He must clothe himself from head to foot 
in blue clothes. He is then presented with 
the five weapons : a sword, a firelock, a 
bow and arrow, and a pike*. One of 
those who initiate him then says, " The 
" Guru is thy holy teacher, and thou art 
" his Sikh or disciple." Some sugar and 
water is put into a cup, and stirred round 
with a steel knife, or dagger, and some 
of the first chapters of the Adi-Grant'h, 
and the first chapters of the Dasama Pad- 
shah ka Grant'h, are read ; and those who 

* The goddess of courage, Bhavani Durga, repre- 
sented in the Dasama Padshah ka Grant'h, or book of 
kings of Guru Govind, as the soul of arms, or tutelary 
goddess of war, and is thus addressed : " Thou art the 
" edge of the sword, thou art the arrow, the sword, 
" the knife, and the dagger." 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 183 

perform the initiation exclaim, WaJ Guruji 
ka Khdlsa! TVa! Guruji ki Fateh! (Success 
to the state of the Guru ! Victory attend 
the Guru !) After this exclamation has 
been repeated five times, they say, " This 
" sherbet is nectar. It is the water of life ; 
" drink it." The disciple obeys ; and some 
sherbet, prepared in a similar manner, is 
sprinkled over his head and beard. After 
these ceremonies, the disciple is asked if he 
consents to be of the faith of Guru Govind. 
He answers, " I do consent." He is then 
told, " If you do, you must abandon all 
" intercourse, and neither eat, drink, nor sit 
" in company with men of five sects which 
" I shall name. The first, the Mina D'hir- 
" mal ; who, though of the race of Nanac, 
" were tempted by avarice to give poison 
" to Arjun ; and, though they did not suc- 
" ceed, they ought to be expelled from 
" society. The second are the Musandia ; 
" a sect who call themselves Gurus, or 
" priests, and endeavour to introduce he- 



184 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

" terodox doctrines*. The third, Ram 
" Rayi, the descendants of Ram Ray, 
" whose intrigues were the great cause of 
" the destruction of the holy ruler, Tegh 
" Singh. The fourth are the Kud i-niar, 
" or destroyers -f of their own daughters. 
" Fifth, the Bhadani, who shave the hair 
" of their head and beards/' The disciple, 
after this warning against intercourse with 
sectaries, or rather schismatics, is instructed 
in some general precepts, the observance of 
which regard the welfare of the community 
into which he has entered. He is told to 
be gentle and polite to all with whom he 
converses, to endeavour to attain wisdom, 
and to emulate the persuasive eloquence of 
Baba Nanac. He is particularly enjoined, 
whenever he approaches any of the Sikh 
temples, to do it with reverence and re- 
spect, and to go to Amritsar, to pay his 

* Guru Govind put to death many of this tribe. 
t This barbarous custom still prevails among the 
Rajaputs in many parts of Hindustan. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 185 

devotions to the Khalsa, or state ; the 
interests of which he is directed, on all 
occasions, to consider paramount to his 
own. He is instructed to labour to in- 
crease the prosperity of the town of Arn- 
ritsar; and told, that at every place of 
worship which he visits he will be con- 
ducted in the right path by the Guru (Guru 
Govind). He is instructed to believe, that 
it is the duty of all those who belong to the 
Khalsa, or commonwealth of the Sikhs, 
neither to lament the sacrifice of property, 
nor of life, in support of each other ; and 
he is directed to read the Adi-Grant'h and 
Dasama Padshah ka Grant'h, every morn- 
ing and every evening. Whatever he has 
received from God, he is told it is his duty 
to share with others. And after the dis- 
ciple has heard and understood all these 
and similar precepts, he is declared to be 
duly initiated. 

Guru Govind Singh, agreeably to this 
Sikh author, after initiating the first five 



186 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

disciples in the mode above stated, order- 
ed the principal persons among them* to 
initiate him exactly on similar occasions, 
which he did. The author from whom the 
above account is taken, states, that when 
Govind was at the point of death, he ex- 
claimed, " Wherever five Sikhs are as- 
" sembled, there I also shall be present!" 
and, in consequence of this expression, five 
Sikhs are the number necessary to make 
a Singh, or convert. By the religious 
institutions of Guru Govind, proselytes are 
admitted from all tribes and casts in the 
universe. The initiation may take place 
at any time of life, but the children of the 
Singhs all go through this rite at a very early 
age. 

The leading tenet of Guru Govind's reli- 

• Agreeably to this author, Guru Govind was ini- 
tiated on Friday, the 8th of the month B'hadra, in the 
year 1753 of the sera of Vicramaditya; and on that 
day his great work, the Dasama Padshah ka Grant'h, 
or book of the tenth king, was completed. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 187 

gious institutions, which obliges his fol- 
lowers to devote themselves to arms, is 
stated, in one of the chapters of the Dasama 
Padshah ka Grant'h, or book of the tenth 
king, written in praise of Durga B'havani, 
the goddess of courage : " Durga," Guru 
G6vind says, " appeared to me when I 
" was asleep, arrayed in all her glory. The 
" goddess put into my hand the hilt of 
" a bright scimitar, which she had before 
" held in her own. ' The country of the 
" Muhammedans/ said the goddess, ' shall 
" be conquered by thee, and numbers of 
" that race shall be slain/ After I had 
" heard this, I exclaimed, ' This steel shall 
" be the guard to me and my followers, 
" because, in its lustre, the splendour of 
" thy countenance, O goddess! is always 
« reflected*/" 

* An author, whom I have often quoted, says, 
Guru Govind gave the following injunctions to his 
followers : " It is right to slay a Muhammedan wher- 



188 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

The Dasama Padshah ka Grant'h of 
Guru Govind appears, from the extracts 
which I have seen of it, to abound in fine 
passages. Its author has borrowed largely 
from the Sastras of the Brahmens, and the 
Koran. He praises Nanac as a holy saint, 
accepted of God ; and grounds his faith, 
like that of his predecessors, upon the 
adoration of one God; whose power and 
attributes he however describes by so many 
Sanscrit names, and with such constant 
allusions to the Hindu mythology, that it 
appears often difficult to separate his purer 
belief from their gross idolatry. He, how- 
ever, rejects all worship of images, on an 
opinion taken from one of the ancient 
Vedas, which declares, " that to worship 

" ever you meet him. If you meet a Hindu, beat 
" him and plunder him, and divide his property 
" among you. Employ your constant effort to destroy 
" the countries ruled by Muhammedans. If they 
" oppose you, defeat and slay them." 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 139 

" an idol made of wood, earth, or stone, is 
" as foolish as it is impious ; for God alone 
" is deserving of adoration." 

The great points, however, by which 
G6ru Govind has separated his followers 
for ever from the Hindus, are those which 
have been before stated ; — -the destruction 
of the distinction of casts, the admission of 
proselytes, and the rendering the pursuit of 
arms not only admissible, but the religious 
duty of all his followers. Whereas, among 
the Hindus, agreeable to the Dherma 
Sastra, (one of the most revered of their 
sacred writings,) carrying arms on all occa- 
sions, as an occupation, is only lawful to 
the Cshatriya or military tribe. A Brah- 
men is allowed to obtain a livelihood by 
arms, if he can by no other mode. The 
Vaisya and Sudra are not allowed to make 
arms their profession, though they may use 
them in self-defence. 

The sacred book of Guru Govind is not 
confined to religious subjects, or tales of 



190 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

Hindu mythology, related in his own way ; 
but abounds in accounts of the battles 
which he fought, and of the actions which 
were performed by the most valiant of his 
followers. Courage is, throughout this work, 
placed above every other virtue ; and G6- 
vind, like Muhammed, makes martyrdom 
for the faith which he taught, the shortest 
and most certain road to honour in this 
world, and eternal happiness in the future. 
The opinion which the Sikhs entertain of 
Govind will be best collected from their 
most esteemed authors. 

" Gurti Govind Singh/' one* of those 
writers states, " appeared as the tenth 
" Avatar. He meditated on the Creator 
" himself, invisible, eternal, and incom- 
" prehensible. He established the Khalsa, 
" his own sect, and, by exhibiting singular 
" energy, leaving the hair on his head, and 
" seizing the scimitar, he smote every 

* B'hai Gtirvi Das Bhale. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. igi 

" wicked person. He bound the garment 

" of chastity round his loins, grasped the 

" sword of valour, and, passing the true 

" word of victory, became victorious in 

" the field of combat; and seizing the 

" Devatas, his foes, he inflicted on them 

" punishment ; and, with great success, dif- 

" fused the sublime Guru Jap (a mystical 

" form of prayer composed by Guru G6- 

" vind) through the world. As he was 

" born a warlike Singh, he assumed the 

" blue dress ; and, by destroying the wicked 

" Turks, he exalted the name of Hari 

" (God). No Sirdar could stand in battle 

" against him, but all of them fled ; and, 

" whether Hindu Rajas, or Muhammedan 

" lords, became like dust in his presence. 

" The mountains, hearing of him, were 

" struck with terror ; the whole world was 

" affrighted, and the people fled from their 

" habitations. In short, such was his fame, 

" that they were all thrown into conster- 

" nation, and began to say, ' Besides thee. 



192 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

" O Sat Guru! there is no dispeller of 
" danger/ — Having seized and displayed 
" his sword, no person could resist his 
" might." 

The same author, in a subsequent pas- 
sage, gives a very characteristic account 
of that spirit of hostility which the religion 
of Guru Govind breathed against the Mu- 
hammedans ; and of the manner in which 
it treated those sacred writings, upon which 
most of the established usages of Hindus 
are grounded. 

" By the command of the Eternal, the 
" great Guru disseminated the true know- 
" ledge. Full of strength and courage, he 
" successfully established the Khalsa (or 
" state). Thus, at once founding the 
" sect of Singh, he struck the whole world 
" with awe : overturning temples and sacred 
" places, tombs and mosques, he levelled 
" them all with the plain : rejecting the 
" Vedas, the Purans, the six Sastras, and 
" the Koran ; he abolished the cry of 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 193 

" Namaz (Muhammedan prayer), and slew 
the Sultans ; reducing the Mirs and Pirs 
* (the lords and priests of the Muham- 
' medans) to silence, he overturned all 
1 their sects; the Moullahs (professors), and 
' the Kazis (judges), were confounded, 
' and found no benefit from their studies. 
<■ The Brahmens, the Pandits, and the 
' Jotishis (or astrologers), had acquired a 
' relish for worldly things : they worship- 
4 ped stones and temples, and forgot the 
6 Supreme. Thus these two sects, the 
8 Muhammedan and Hindu, remained in- 
4 volved in delusion and ignorance, when 
the third sect of the Khalsa originated in 
purity. When, at the order of Guru 
Govind, the Singhs seized and displayed 
the scimitar, then subduing all their 
enemies, they meditated on the Eternal ; 
and, as soon as the order of the Most 
High was manifested in the world, cir- 
cumcision ceased, and the Turks trem- 
bled, when they saw the ritual of Mu- 



194 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 



" hammed destroyed : then the Nakara 
" (large drum) of victory sounded through- 
" out the world, and fear and dread were 
" abolished. Thus the third sect was 
" established, and increased greatly in 
" might." 

These extracts, and what I have before 
stated, will sufficiently show the character 
of the religious institutions of Guru G6- 
vind ; which were admirably calculated to 
awaken, through the means of fanaticism, 
a spirit of courage and independence, 
among men who had been content, for 
ages, with that degraded condition in 
society, to which they were taught to 
believe themselves born. The end which 
Govind sought, could not, perhaps, have 
been attained by the employment of other 
means. Exhortations respecting their civil 
rights, and the wrongs which they sus- 
tained, would have been wasted on minds 
enslaved by superstition, and who could 
only be persuaded to assert themselves men. 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 195 

by an impression that it was the will of 
Heaven they should do so. His success 
is a strong elucidation of the general cha- 
racter of the Hindu natives of India. That 
race, though in general mild and peaceable, 
take the most savage and ferocious turn, 
when roused to action by the influence 
of religious feeling. 

I have mentioned, in the narrative part 
of this Sketch, the attempt of the Bairagi 
Banda to alter the religious institutions of 
Guru Govind, and its failure. The tribe of 
Acalis (immortals), who have now assumed 
a dictatorial sway in all the religious cere- 
monies at Amritsar, and the Nirmala and 
Shahid, who read the sacred writings, may 
hereafter introduce some changes in those 
usages which the Sikhs revere : but it is 
probable that the spirit of equality, which 
has been hitherto considered as the vital 
principle of the Khalsa or commonwealth, 
and which makes all Sikhs so reluctant to 
own either a temporal or spiritual leader, 



196 SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 

will tend greatly to preserve their insti- 
tutions from invasion : and it is stated, in 
a tradition which is universally believed 
by the Sikhs, and has, indeed, been in- 
serted in their sacred writings, that Guru 
Govind, when he was asked by his fol- 
lowers, who surrounded his death-bed, to 
whom he would leave his authority ? replied, 
' I have delivered over the Khalsa (com- 
' mon wealth) to God, who never dies. I 
' have been your guide, and will still pre- 
' serve you ; read the Grant'h, and attend 
' to its tenets ; and whoever remains true 
' to the state, him will I aid." From these 
dying words of Guru Govind, the Sikhs 
believe themselves to have been placed, by 
their last and most revered prophet, under 
the peculiar care of God : and their attach- 
ment to this mysterious principle, leads 
them to consider the Khalsa (or com- 
monwealth) as a theocracy ; and such 
an impression is likely to oppose a very 
serious obstacle, if not an insuperable 



SKETCH OF THE SIKHS. 197 

barrier, to the designs of any of their 
chiefs, who may hereafter endeavour to 
establish an absolute power over the whole 
nation. 



THE END. 



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